The candidates in the May 16 Sibu parliamentary by-election left-right: Narawi Haron, Robert Lau Hui Yew, Wong Ho Leng.

The Sibu by-election will be a step closer for Barisan Nasional march toward coveted two-thirds majority in parliament if they retained the seat.

The ruling coalition currently only need 10 more parliamentarians to switch camp, become ‘BN-friendly Independent’ if not altogether joining either UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan – to achieve the goal.

The many by-elections or some jokes ‘buy-elections’ we have been through thus far, sort of a blessing in disguise to BN as they don’t have to court the like of Hee Yit Fong, Zahrain to get back the seats. It also help to make unethical took over of Perak government appear legitimate.

But what is difficult is the question of ethics in the art of politicking and vote canvassing in this country.

Have Malaysians come to accept the fact that the use of money can be labeled for any purpose? The need for a little money to cast the vote for a particular party can be considered ‘gratitude’ gift and not bribery?

But isn’t that goes against the very idea and virtue of gratitude as promoted by every religions – Islam, Christian etc.

However, did not an MP (Member of Parliament) recently question the Chinese community’s gratitude towards the ruling party when they didn’t cast their votes in favor of the BN?

Rather than question the attitude of a particular community in term of their stance in a particular election or buy-election, we should venture to further challege the way we strive to work for the common goods of all races.

This would entail following a code of ethics, from the day of nomination to the polling day.

Allegation such as the above wouldn't have surface adhere to ethical campaigning - no vote-buying.

This is possible as seen by the encouraging efforts of the Iraqi people, who at least drafted a code of ethics in the face of many uncertainties. Extract of the Iraqi elections code of ethics:

#. The belief in the rights of all to pursue free competition, and for equal opportunities and access to advertising and the broadcasting media, and that the official Iraqi Medial Network be open to all candidates for use for party political broadcasts, avoiding negative campaigning and recognising and respecting pluralism.

#. Not to use any of the country’s financial resources for the promotion of any one party or any one candidate, especially as many of the electoral candidates are in senior positions within the country.

#. To refrain from the use of such means as threats, the buying of votes or forcing a voter to cast a vote for a particular list.

#. To respect for opponents in the electoral process and the avoidance of methods of libel or defamation.

5. To present exemplary democratic and nationalistic behaviour, without resorting to sectarian, racial or ethnic tactics, and by emphasising a free competition and open dialogue based on electoral manifestos.

#. The belief in the right of every candidate or coalition to win votes, and not using, promoting or encouraging any means of fraud.

#. To respect the voter’s vote as a sacred right, and not to discard or steal any votes under the influence of observers and staff at polling stations.

#. The non-interference in the activities and functions of the Independent Electoral Commission, and to support international efforts present for the purpose of surveillance and monitoring.

#. To comply with the law and to respect the independence of the judiciary.

#. To respect the feelings of and that which is sacred for all religions and sects, and not to use religion for the elections campaign.

#. To prohibit strife and political violence, and to prevent the threat of direct or implicit threats between opponents, rejecting these as means of political blackmail.

#. To adhere to the principle of peaceful rotation of power, the practice of democracy, and the acceptance of election results following their formal approval by the Independent Electoral Commission.

#. To establish a follow-up committee composed of representatives for the signatories of this charter, who shall meet as the need arises to implement its provisions and to address any obstacles to its implementation. The Committee may call a meeting of the leaders of the undersigned blocs if it is unable to handle any urgent problems.

The code of ethics drafted by the Iraqis above is base on universal values – valid even to us here in Malaysia.

If it is to be followed in Sibu by-election, some of the negative comments of ‘vote buying’ ‘buy-election etc wouldn’t have surfaced.

Let’s pray Sibu by-election will be fair one.

Adapted from Herald – The Catholic Weekly