A forum last night discussing the #UndiRosak campaign to spoil votes in the 14th general election (GE14) drew flak from viewers after its ‘live’ broadcast on Facebook was muted whenever one of the panellists spoke.
- Views on #undirosak campaign:
- Bersih secretariat member Mandeep Singh: Reform can only be attained through regime change and the spoiling of votes would be a hindrance in achieving this.
- #undirosak campaigner Hafidz Baharom: It gives the public a “third choice” – if you don’t like either BN or PH, go ahead and spoil your vote.
- Political scientist Khoo Ying Hooi: There are problems in the country that need to be fixed and the #undirosak campaign did not address this at all.
- Meanwhile, many ordinary social media users have unleashed unflattering terms such as “otak rosak”, “idiots” and “criminals” on #undirosak advocates.
Hafidz Baharom, who advocated the campaign, told the Malay Mail that Malaysia is a “free country” and that anyone was free to complain against his muted remarks.
“I don’t have to say why I wanted my session to be muted and likewise the people can say anything they want…it is a free country you know,” he was quoted saying.
Apparently, Hafidz had earlier asked to speak off-the-record during some parts of the forum and told the media to not quote parts of his speech.
Several social media users, however, took criticised Hafidz and the organisers, the loose movement called #Perpaduan, and their host Facebook page ‘Malaysian Gags’ for muting the live stream despite it being a public event.
Some had also mocked the move with hashtags such as #AudioRosak and #ForumRosak in reference to #UndiRosak.
Many insults, including from Opposition politicians, have been hurled on those who are expressing their plan to spoil their votes in the GE14 to protest against both the federal Opposition coalition and the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) using the hashtag #UndiRosak.
“I’m not going to hashtag and give spoilt children any credence. But #otakrosak is apt,” Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) supreme council member Tariq Ismail posted on Facebook on Tuesday, using the Malay hashtag roughly meaning ‘brain-dead’.
“A bunch of spoilt brats crying over spilt milk whilst over the dinner table they don’t like the food and instead asks the host to cook a meal they want with the intent to spoil the mood of everyone.
“You are more gutless than the BN cytros and fanatics. At least they make a stand,” he added, using the short-form for ‘cybertroopers’.
On Twitter, a graphic by user @pilocarpine101 titled ‘Guide to GE14’ listed a question: “Are you a ‘p****k’?”, with the “Yes” answer leading to #UndiRosak. The popular graphic has since been retweeted over 150 times and reposted by many others.
Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus, in a Facebook post, had even told the police and Election Commission to take action against those advocating spoiled votes.
The Amanah leader questioned if spoiling one’s vote was a crime under Section 124B of the Penal Code that prohibits activities “detrimental to parliamentary democracy”, punishable with 20 years’ jail.
“Any intervention by legal enforcers like PDRM against the freedom in campaigning to not go out to vote or to spoil their ballots is the last option if something really threatens the nation,” Hasanuddin said in a statement last week, using the Malay initials for the Royal Malaysian Police.
The movement of mostly anti-establishment young people, who plan to either spoil their votes or abstain from voting in the GE14, appeared to have gained momentum after Pakatan Harapan announced Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whom many Opposition leaders used to denounce as an autocrat during his administration, as their prime minister candidate.
On Wednesday, Bersih secretariat member Mandeep Singh told KiniTV’s ‘Spoiling GE14’ talk show that those advocating for vote-spoiling because they were against the prospect of Mahathir returning to power should campaign against the former premier to ensure he doesn’t hold public office again.
“Is this entire spoilt votes campaign just because of Mahathir? If that is the case, then what they should do is find out where Mahathir is standing for election and campaign all out (against him) there.
“Do not allow him to be prime minister,” said Mandeep.
Mandeep was a guest on the talk show, along with #undirosak campaigner Hafidz Baharom, a public relations practitioner who writes political commentaries for various publications, and Universiti Malaya lecturer Khoo Ying Hooi.
Mandeep said Bersih advocated reform at all levels, which can only be attained through regime change and the spoiling of votes would be a hindrance to achieving this.
He said Bersih’s wanted to seek a high voter turnout so voters will choose candidates who promise change.
In his retort, Hafidz said #undirosak, at a personal level, was not about Mahathir but that he could not resonate with the political choices available.
“We are saying there is a third choice. If you don’t like either one, go ahead and spoil your vote,” said Hafidz.
Meanwhile, Khoo, a political scientist, said that although deliberate spoiling of votes has a place in a democracy, the #undirosak campaign appeared misplaced.
She said its advocates were mostly people who were disappointed with Harapan but did not apply the same standards to BN.
“Why are (they) not questioning the six decades of BN rule? Logically, the spoilt vote campaign should be questioning both sides.
“Why are they saying that (Harapan and its predecessor Pakatan Rakyat) have not given us anything in 10 years? Where is the logic in that?” Khoo asked.
She added that voters should be able to recognise that there are problems in the country that need to be fixed and the #undirosak campaign did not address this at all.