Spoilt votes were more prominent during GE12 in 2008
As GE14 draws closer, one interesting development that is taking place is the growing number of registered voters who are keen on spoiling their votes.
They have made their presence on social media platforms by having discussions with the hashtag #undirosak on Twitter as well as Facebook groups. Among the well known personalities in the #undirosak group are social activist Hafidz Baharom and feminist activist Maryam Lee.
Thus far two issues can be seen as contributors that have led to the people opting for #undirosak. One, the dissatisfaction in states ruled by opposition. The contention is that there is not much difference between a BN run or an opposition run state.
Two, the unhappiness stemming from Pakatan Harapan’s decision to name its chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister candidate. The former prime minister is now PPBM chairman and heads the federal opposition coalition as its chairman too.
#Undirosak campaigners find it ironic that the man responsible for damaging the various democratic institutions which includes among others the royalty and judiciary now desires to save Malaysia by restoring them.
It is ironic to say the least but as the saying goes, politics is the art of the possible.
The issue has even received the attention of cabinet ministers and Mahathir himself.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak appears to view the #undirosak campaign as being beneficial for BN.
“Pakatan seems to have missed the point. When someone says ‘Coke versus Pepsi’ it means there is no difference between the two. In other words, Pakatan is not better than Barisan, as they are trying to suggest,” he wrote on his blog on Wednesday.
“Voters are saying why bother to vote if both coalitions are the same? If Pakatan is merely Barisan 2.0 then might as well leave Barisan in power. Pakatan does not seem to get that message the voters are sending them,” he added.
Mahathir who initially claimed that the campaign was the dirty work of Umno three days ago also addressed this issue on his blog.
Terming the advocators of #undirosak as ignorant, he sarcastically told them not to vote to save themselves.
“Those who can’t think are known as ignorant. If we are in this group, it is impossible for us to differentiate those who are contesting and impossible for us to develop. It is no surprise if we can’t vote in the 14th general election,” he wrote in his post entitled Pepsi or Coke on the same day as Salleh.
“If we can’t choose between Pepsi and Coca Cola, what more between BN and Pakatan. It is too difficult. So don’t choose. We will be safe. Will we? Ask for yourself.”
A media report in November quoting Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said stated that there are 14,622,881 registered voters as of June 30, 2017. There is also a staggering 3,797,785 eligible Malaysians who have not registered to vote.
How effective would #undirosak campaign be? If one percent of the registered voters opted to abstain from voting or spoilt their votes, it would amount to only 146,228 voters.
When the results of GE12 and GE13 are compared in terms of spoilt votes, there are significant number of constituencies with more than 2% of spoilt votes during GE12 in 2008 compared to GE13 in 2013.
There were only 17 constituencies with 2% and more spoilt votes during GE13 with Cameron Highlands topping the list at 3.1%.
In contrast, there was a whopping 117 constituencies with 2% and more spoilt votes during GE12 in 2008. And Cameron Highland topped the list then with 7.2% voters spoiling their votes.
Does this mean the #undirosak campaign missed their ship? That has to be decided by the voters in GE14.
There may be an option to nip #undirosak in the bud and that can be done if the Election Commission wishes to do so.
The EC can introduce the NOTA option in the ballot paper. NOTA stands for None Of The Above. It is implemented in eight countries including the United Kingdom and the world’s largest democracy, India.