Water Stick Election
Politics seem to be engulfing the small town of Lubok Antu when I visited the place yesterday. I was informed by the folks there that the various political parties have been making their rounds in the District and Town area these past few days. However when I went around, I did not see Lubok Antu folks parading political flags or wearing party badges, though I heard that there were prominent Iban politicians meeting people and visiting longhouses. From my first hand observation - it seems that life goes on as usual for the folks here. Though it looks as if nothing much is happening in the town, the coffee shop talk of party politics focused on one thing - the anxiety of knowing who the candidates are going to be. It has been a guessing game since the Election Commission announced that there will be a By Election for the N.29 Batang Ai seat. Or is the spelling right as the other version is N.29 Batang Air, with the 'r' added to the 'Ai'. How about Batang 'Ayer'? Gosh - if we dwell on that like Malaysians dwell on how to give our God Almighty his name, we will be going nowhere. Some gender movement will then chase me and ask 'How sure are you that the Lord Almighty is not a 'She'? And again maybe they may charge the Election Commission for coming up with this wierd name for a constituency ~ 'Batang Ai' implying that the name is 'unsuitable' as the word 'batang' implies some part a male human organ and 'ai', 'air' or 'ayer' means 'water'. Well, whatever the issues, this small town of about 8,000 voters will soon be the attention of the whole of Malaysia if not the whole world. Thus to ensure that this blog is suitable for family reading I will use 'Water Stick' instead of the constituency name so that it does not raise any contreversy. When today in TV3 we heard that the country's leadership has confirmed the candidates for their respective parties in two contituencies in Kedah and Perak, Sarawak's N.29 Water Stick By-Election continues to raise suspense when the Right Honourable Prime Minister mentioned that he has not recieved the confirmed Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate from Sarawak, although the Sarawak BN Chairman has confirmed 'someone'. But when the stakes are high, everyone choose to play their cards close to their chest. Will the PM as the National BN Chairman agree to the name? Who will Pakatan Rakyat field? Will the other parties join the fray? DAP? SNAP? Independents? Right now - one gets to observe Sarawak politics is a bit like 'Sabong Manok' or 'Cock fighting'. Okay, I will have to amend these words again as the gender movement somewhere will accuse me of being gender bias later on for using the English word to describe this 'sport'. What if the candidate is a lady they may ask and the word 'Cock fight' may again be inappropriate. Thus I am out of idea as renaming it to 'Cock - Hen fighting' is rather unsuitable and 'Bird Fighting' will raise eyebrows as guys do not like to be termed 'birds'. So okay, I will stick with the Iban version of Sabong Manok although we will all know during this Water Stick By Election there will be a lot of talking cock and talking hen. Now I have the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals people screening my blog and they may not be happy with me for calling this 'animal fighting' a sport. Sheesh...blogging can be hazardous nowadays, after reading lawyer's advice in Blog with Care, one wrong word and statement, we can be dragged to court.
Okay - back to my Sabong Manok blog and how it applies to a By Election which sees a 50:50 chance of winning. During the selection , the owner of the manok must be very sure that his choice is up for the fight. Its no use if one chooses a weak manok to fight a stronger opponent. Thus one sees this process in the upcoming Water Stick By-Election, everyone is keeping quiet about who will be up against who in the first week the By Election was announced. Both sides want to win. Only the manok owner knows his manok's capability. Sometimes its not wrong for others to say 'why don't you choose (or borrow mine) another one which is stronger?' Sometime the nearby 'manoks' will crow and try to exhibit their strength as if to say 'Choose me'. Then again, its up to the owner as we he will have 1001 reasons for his choice and spectators can only speculate - what nore if the particular fight involves 'pasang besai' or big stakes in terms of money.
The 'cock spur' (oopss) or taji is another added weapon to ensure an effective fight. One slice of this sharp blade can open a big wound. Thus the taji must be positioned effectively to make sure that it hits home during the fight. Similiarly, a good strategy is particularly important in this upcoming Water Stick fight. The owner will have many types of tajis to choose from in his bag and it must be tied properly to the manok's feet. A loose taji will mean that the manok will lose its weapon during the clash and risks its chance of surviving the fight. It will not know that the taji has dropped and will keep on attacking the opponent until the killer blow is delivered. Thus, the candidates in this upcoming election needs to have an effective strategy and machinery for their campaign. A big machinery does not necessary mean one can win the election. How to get that one extra vote to ensure democracy prevails needs more than a good machinery and candidate's charm? One may sound convincing but the decision is with the one who marks the 'ballot' paper. The one extra vote will contribute to one's victory even if the majority is by one vote. How will they vote? One rarely knows, depending on which side of the bed they woke up.
When its time to call for bets it is like 'kangau twi' whereby one puts in money on one's choice. Be it RM5 or RM10 or RMxxxx, it reflects on the confidence of the people putting their bet on a particular manok. This is likened to the voting process whereby the people have made up their mind. Of course most will be betting on the best presentable manok but then again do not be too sure. Sometimes some just bet for the fun of it and in particular those betting for the first time will be influenced by how both sides shore up their muscle. Instead of looking at the manok, they may judge the owner or access that the other side has more people putting their bets on one particular manok. Its like election issues for them. Some veterans's minds are rather hard to convince as they have made up their mind on which manok or political party of their choice - irregardless of them winning or losing. So in this Water Stick By Election, if the voters in either of these categories are many, it can decide the outcome of the results.
Come nomination day - the competitors present their candidates and they will face off. Its like introducing two boxers who will be fighting one another in the boxing ring. Everyone will be observing how the two sides present themselves. The manok's reaction to each other and the degree of aggression or 'competitiveness' is an added bonus. This usually happens after the naming of the candidates and submission of nomination papers.
Let the fight begins - and so, during the ensuing campaign I predict that there will be no holds barred between the opponents. At least that is what I observe in the country's political scenario at the moment. Issues will be flying in the air and loudspeakers (minus the mud slinging I hope). Parties and candidates will lock horns with one another presenting their ideas, issues, visions and plans. Observers will be cheering them on, trying to get the voters to choose them. Of course they will be under the close observation of the Election Commission and the relevant authorities (e.g Police). In sabong manok, we call these people Tuai Sabong.
The Tuai Sabong is there to ensure that the fight is fair and square. Unfortunately in the picture above, the Tuai Sabong seemed to be one of the person who released the manok, which can result in some controversial situations which can lead to election petitions. It is best that the Tuai Sabong should be a neutral body. In this country the Election Commission is always seen as siding the ruling party and whoever heads this commission is always in the limelight come election day. Trying to be creative, say, using some permanent ink, can cause a lot of problem. Being a Presiding Officer in past elections I can be considered as part of the the Election Commission worker. And after assessing the various procedures we have to go through I do not see any weaknesses in how the Commission executes its function. However with the emergence of non government organisations like MAFREL (Malaysians for Free and Fair Election), it means there will be more Tuai Sabongs, MAFREL being an independent one. My experience with MAFREL was in 2006 when I was the Presiding Officer for the then 2006 State Election. My advice to them this time if they should be involved in the upcoming By Election is to work closely with the Election Commission or the Returning Officer of the election.
The outcome of the election will be known when one of the manok falls or runs away. In elections this is known usually after the votes are counted and not when one of the candidate lies on some ground somewhere like the manok above. Upon counting the final result, the Returning Officer will announce the winner.
Okay I sound as if this election is some kind of a betting sports - I may be wrong. But if one reads the papers it seems that the candidates in the three areas Perak, Kedah and Sarawak were all 49 years old in age. For the fun of it I tried to buy 494949 and found out it was sold out in today's 6D Draw. The other punters beat me to it.....Anyway I can only say this to all the candidates, though the other parties have not come out or the independent manoks come out to show themselves.....May the Best Manok win....