Malaysian cyber election nixed

Posted on November 26, 1999 
Filed Under CNET, Julian, Uncategorized

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–A Web-based lobby group which set up a mock poll on the Internet to parallel that of the general elections has abandoned the idea after nominations submitted did not conform to its standards.

“We reviewed the nominations for the Cabinet of the New Millennium submitted through the Net and found the results meaningless to be used in a poll,” said Pat Lu, co-founder of Pahlawan, the group that conceived the cyber-election.

“The nominations we received were very polarized, and some clearly represented an expression of anger and frustration with other contending parties. This, we are afraid, diminishes the intent of the Internet poll and we are unable to put up a credible poll, ” she said in a statement.

Lu explained the aim of the poll was meant to be a talent hunt for the best candidates to run the new government and “not a place to put in anyone’s candidate.”

Pahlawan co-founder Foong Wai Fong cited the example of Tian Chua, vice president of opposition party Parti Keadilan Nasional, being nominated for Minister of Economy as “totally not in the spirit of the poll”.

“We find some of the nominations are merely an expression of people’s allegiances and not really putting the country’s interest above their emotions,” said Foong.

Neither Foong nor Lu could qualify the criteria used in determining why the nominees were unacceptable except to say the poll was cancelled to save them the embarrassment.

No security features were also in place to determine whether voters were Malaysian or using false or multiple email accounts.

Lu claims Pahlawan, which comprises about 20 professionals, are non-partisan although she is an avid supporter of National Front chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and openly expresses fondness to Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, a National Front component party at her Web site.

The mock cyber-election was to parallel the real-world elections, but confined only to cabinet posts, and called for nominations last week.

The group planned to pick the three top-nominated candidates for each post, then begin polling on the Net Wednesday until Nov 29, the same day as the actual elections. Results were expected to be known by 6pm the same day.

When launched, Lu said the mock election was wishful thinking on the part of some Malaysians to be able to choose the executive branch of government directly over the Internet.

Pahlawan, however, is still going forward with a survey for users to express their opinion on the group’s advocacy to halve the number of legislators in parliament and triple their renumeration. It is also calling to reduce cabinet ministries, have parliament endorse judiciary appointments, and hold elections for local government officials.

“The way to root out corruption is to downsize government and hold public officials to a high ethical standard,” claimed the Web site owners.

Pahlawan was involved in another unsuccessful cyber-campaign previously to spam 50 million users worldwide with invitations to visit Malaysia.

Published in CNET Asia, Nov 26, 1999.

Related links:
‘Phantom’ voters show up on Internet electoral roll, Nov 26, 1999.
Net’s influence limited in this election, Nov 26, 1999.
Doctored photo on Net stirs election controversy, Nov 26, 1999.
Malaysian election campaigning gets tech boost, Nov 26, 1999.
Malaysian elections: On the cyber-campaign trail, Dec 10, 1999.

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