Tense situation?: Drummers thump rhythmically as others jive to the beat during Nomination Day for the Permatang Pauh by-election last year – Photo by Anil Netto
Here’s another ‘bright’ idea: The Election Commission and the police want to restrict the number of supporters who turn up on nomination day to 5,000 (for each party?). This follows their attempt to ban the “pondok panas” (voter assistance booths) set up by political parties outside the polling centres.
In the first place, how do they plan to ensure that the crowd does not exceed 5,000? What if 5,001 people turn up? Are they going to put up turnstiles outside the nomination centre and issue tickets?
Interesting that they should come up with the 5,000 figure. In recent by-elections, that’s about the largest crowd size the BN could muster. In the Permatang Pauh and Bukit Gantang by-elections, for instance, about 5,000 BN supporters turned up on nomination day, whereas the Pakatan supporters were six to 10 times (or maybe more) that number.
On polling day, casual observation of the respective pondok panas was enough to show who the likely winners were going to be.
Such huge turnouts of Pakatan supporters must have been demoralising for the BN campaigners.
As long as the BN had the larger crowds (in by-elections before March 8), huge crowds were not a problem for the BN, the Election Commission and the police. But now that the tables are turned, we see the authorities trying to ram through new restrictions.
This excerpt from The Star:
Sunday May 3, 2009
Parties have to limit supporters
By G. MANIMARAN
PETALING JAYA: From now on, political parties have to restrict the number of supporters who turn up on nomination day for by-elections to 5,000.
This step will begin with the upcoming Penanti by-election.
The Election Commission and the police decided on the move during a meeting last Thursday.
“The commission and the police request and hope political parties will limit their supporters to not more than 5,000 people,” said commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar when contacted by Mstar Online yesterday.
“It is to ensure that the situation does not become tense at nomination centres and for things to run smoothly.”
I was at the Permatang Pauh nomination day gathering and the atmosphere was mostly festive (see pic above). No one I know who has been to other nomination day gatherings has complained of the situation being too tense.