So, the issue for today is on the 10 minutes airtime each on Radio-Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) given to all political parties to present their election manifestos after parliament is dissolved for GE13.
DAP yesterday has rejected the offer and PAS followed suit today. Both parties dismissed the offer as a mockery of the government’s reforms claim, when it comes to freedom of media.
Khairy Jamaluddin, tweeted in jest,
“DAP rejects 10 mins manifesto broadcast. In UK, maximum length for party manifesto broadcast during election is 4 mins 40 secs. Heh.”
Very cheeky of him.
While it is true that Party Election Broadcasts (PEBs) in the UK ranging from 2 minutes 40 seconds to 4 minutes 40 seconds, let’s not conveniently forget about other measures also taken by UK, true to the principle that political parties should be able freely to publicise their platforms and policies to voters, and that voters should be able to receive such information.
Also, usually the governing party and main opposition party are allocated the same no of broadcasts, are we doing that here? Do we even have equal coverage with right to reply for both governing party and the opposition everyday on all public service television channels and every national radio service during campaigning period?
Since our learned friend has used UK as an example, let’s take a further look at how they practise democracy there. Surely, KJ’s intention is for us to learn from the best no?
1) What is PEBs? Well, PEBs are guaranteed airtime slots on all the public service channels, which in reality means all the five major terrestrial channels in the UK (and any national radio stations). Furthermore, channels are required to broadcast the PEBs for all the major political parties during peaktime viewing, that is, between 6pm and 10.30pm during the campaign period. Further reading on PEBs, go here Imagine seeing the likes of Nik Aziz, Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang, Anwar Ibrahim on RTMs telling us why we should vote for PAS, PKR or DAP.
2) Live debates amongst the major party leaders. For three consecutive weeks, in UK it was every Thursday leading up to election day, leader from each party face each other in a series of live, televised debates. Dare we do that here? Since Najib Razak in his capacity as BN’s Chairman has refused to debate Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, many of his yes men and apologists have came out to his support with mind boggling excuses like “debate is not our Malaysian culture” and “why debate when doing things is more important” or “debate is only for those who can talk but cannot do.”
Funny, I would think one should be able to articulate and debate his ideas and policies (what he and his party want to do) before he is going to do it. Just like how you would explain to your client or your boss what, why, how, when and where you want to do what you have set to do.
3) Making it easier for citizens abroad to vote in elections. We only allow certain group of citizens in certain countries to vote in our elections and it is not exactly a walk in the park process, from what I have heard and read.
Further discussions were carried out on Twitter and those with differing opinions can be divided into three groups. I think.
1) 10 minutes given is good enough for a start. DAP, PAS, PKR should take up the offer and make the most out of it. Realistically, that is the most that they will get, will not get anywhere by playing hardball. “You have 10 minutes before the escape hatch closes, do everything you can to get there.” “Play by their rules, work with what you got. If you want to play.”
2) 10 minutes is bullshit. Why only give 10 minutes if the government is seriously about press freedom and equal coverage? Why come up with half baked initiative and sell it as “opportunity was being provided to respect the democratic system in the country?” You don’t practise democracy suku suku half half wan leh! Isn’t this perpetuating the mentality “be grateful we give you this crumbs or you’ll get nothing!”? This being grateful for every little small little thing even when it is rightfully ours is ingrained in our mentality, without we realising it. The blurry lines between accorded rights, privileges, caretakers, owners, masters and servants leaving many confused and vulnerable to the opportunists.
When you say equal coverage, make sure they are being treated as equal and not beggars. It should be equal and there is no equality here. It is downright an abuse of power and in this case the government should not be allowed to abuse the power which has been entrusted to them. Where is the fairness in this and when people start making excuses for such practices they are actually validating it.
Perhaps, another point to ponder here is what kind of standards we should look at when evaluating such “reforms”. By Zimbabwe’s standards we are so damn fine. I always argue for setting the bar a little higher in order for real and serious efforts to be made and quantified. We cannot accept the current reality as it is, we should take a leap of faith and go for the limits. Guess it is a constant and never ending struggle between realists and idealists. Your reality today will not be a reality if some “hopeless” idealists didn’t idealise it back then. Heh.
3) I don’t give fuck what is going on. When is Najib going to call for the dissolution of Parliament!??!
Me? I tweeted this.
Does it make sense? I agree that they should take up the offer and make the most of out of it, but I disagree with the nature and conditions of the offer. It is not sincere, and we should push for a better offer. Hmm, I sound like a great politician now.
ps: Yes, yes I use Comic Sans font on my phone. -.-