The Case for Tommy Thomas as the next AG


Note 1: Got this from OutSyedtheBox and it makes alot of sense
Note 2: It is reproduced verbatim (I only edited the layout for clarity) – the authentication is not confirmed

(After the major screw-up and yet to accept the reality of things, the guy on the left does not have enough trust and credibility to continue to be the Attorney General. The country needs a change – a drastic change that it. Image source: Free Malaysia Today)

DOES THE AG NEED TO BE A MALAY OR A MUSLIM? DOES HE HAVE TO ADVISE ON SYARIAH LAW?
By GK Ganesan Kasinathan, Advocate and Solicitor, Kuala Lumpur
03 June 2018

The nation is trundling towards a calamitous constitutional misunderstanding. Someone has to do something about it and set matters straight. Let us identify what is happening. A debate has begun to rage. It concerns the identity of the person who should be the next Attorney General.

It is about constitutional provisions regarding what characteristics the Attorney General should have—and whether the current nominee, Mr. Tommy Thomas has them.

Two conflicting ideas

At the heart of the debate are two conflicting statements:-

  • The first is the altruistic proposition that certain quarters ‘have no objection at all to a non-Malay being nominated as AG.’
  • The second is an opposite argument. It is that the AG should be ‘in a position to advise the palace on Syariah matters.’
  • And the third proposition, being a conclusionary one, is the argument ‘… that therefore a judge, or a retired judge of the Court of Appeal or the Federal Court ought to be appointed as AG.’ These arguments are deeply flawed.

Here are the reasons..

These arguments have no constitutional basis at all. In fact, the Federal Constitution says the opposite. Why is that? The rakyat should be allowed to interpret the Constitution. The rakyat should take part in this debate. They should look at the Constitution and inform themselves of the important aspects of this confusion. They should be taught to interpret the Constitution. It is their right. Lawyers should not be the only ones telling people what the law is.

So let us look at the Constitution.

The starting point is Article 145.

Answer to the claim AG ‘must advise on Syariah law.’ The first and most important opposition to the Administration — and Mahathir — comes from the argument that the ‘AG must be able to advise the King on Syariah matters’. This demand contradicts Constitutional provisions. This is because the Constitution exempts the AG from such a requirement. You will understand this readily, because the relevant part of Article 145(2), states:

– ‘145(2): It shall be the duty of the [AG] to advise the [King] or the Cabinet or any Minister upon… legal matters, and to perform… duties of a legal character,… and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.

So what it says here is that the AG must discharge the duties that the Constitution asks him to. What power does the Constitution give him? That is explained by Art 145(3). It states:

– ‘145(3): The [AG] shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.’ Clause 3 prohibits the AG from dealing with proceedings before Syariah Courts and Military Courts.

As far as Syariah matters are concerned the AG has no role. No one would disagree that the King must have the very best Syariah advisor—an expert. Were previous AGs experts on Syariah Law? Was Gani Patail an expert on Syariah law? Was Apandi? How come no one objected then?

So how can the AG be now compelled to perform a duty — or exercise a power — that the Constitution has taken away from him? Why is the AG now being asked to advise on something that the Constitution tells him is none of his business? The person to advise the King on Syariah law cannot be a retired judge.

The fifth argument is that the nominee for the AG ‘must be either an existing or a retired Federal Court judge or a Court of Appeal judge; for, that way he can render legal advise on Syariah matters’. This argument is a non-starter. Again there is a clear instruction from the Constitution on this.

Apart from informing the AG what matters over which the AG has powers to act on, the Constitution goes one step further.

Secular courts are non-Syariah courts: i.e. the Magistrate Courts, Sessions Courts, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Courts: [Article 121 defines the secular courts].

The Constitution expressly removes from all secular courts any power that is only a Syariah Court can exercise.

Clause (1A) says:- ‘The courts referred to in Clause (1) [read, ‘secular courts’] shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.’

The Syariah judicial system works under a different set of laws. They have their own courts, their own judges, and their own lawyers. They are independent of the Judiciary.

Therefore if Syariah law advice is needed, their Highnesses have ample Syariah resources available at their disposal. If so, how can candidates be chosen from the retired or existing list of the secular Federal Court or the Court of Appeal judges? From them have been removed the power to deal with Syariah matters. It stands to reason that they, no matter what race or religion they profess, would have had no formal legal training on Syariah law at all.

So why ask to choose from a group who possess no Syariah knowledge at all? So the argument that the AG ‘must be able to advise on Syariah matters’ argument is a red fish! It is simply not true.

What qualities must a candidate for an AG have?

The next question to ask oneself is, who can be appointed as the AG? Article 145(1) answers the question in this way:

– ‘145(1): The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the phrase, ‘a person qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court’. Who is that?

That is explained in Article 123. It prescribes that a nominee for an AG must be (a) a citizen and (b) for the last 10 years before his appointment he shall have been ‘an advocate’; or ‘a member of the Judicial and Legal service’ (this differs from judges in the Courts – do not confuse them as one), or a mixture of both. It does not mean he must be a Federal Court or Court of Appeal Judge. He must only be one who is ‘qualified to be’ one.

From which pool would you choose your AG, given the choice?

As a matter of choice where would you choose the AG to come from? Let us examine the pool of resources available to the Prime Minister. Suppose there are about 1,800 lawyers in the AG’s Chambers [AGC]: that is about right. Suppose we assume that at least 500 AGC lawyers in AGC have crossed the ‘10 year practice’ mark (the numbers could be far lower]. Then at least 500 persons qualify to be the AG.

Now, the Malaysian Bar has ten times more lawyers than the AGC. It had, at the latest count, over 18,000 members. Of that number [I extrapolate] there are over 9,000 lawyers who qualify under this Art 123 — they have crossed the ‘10 years of continued practice’ requirement. They are all citizens.

Go now to the judiciary as a source. If you add the total number of judges in the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal that does not cross 45. A great proportion of those judges are from the AG’s Chambers: some say as high as 90%. As a matter of choice, where would you choose the AG from? From the largest pool of 9,00 members, or a lesser pool of 500 lawyers from AG’s chambers, or from a smaller pool of 45 judges from the Judiciary— the latter of which is already under attack?

Equality of all candidates not matter of race

The sixth point is, the Constitution, which upholds equality as its central core (read Article 8 of the Constitution), does not prevent a non-Malay from being appointed an AG. If our forefathers thought it necessary, they would have inserted that proscription into the Constitution. Had they done it, that would have been against all known conventions of human rights. They have not.

Our forebears were reasonable people. They saw this issue and catered for it. The framers of the Constitution were men of great foresight. So why manipulate that intent by specious arguments of non-existent ‘conventions,’ conventions which are against human rights?

So there is no racial restriction in the Constitution. So that argument too goes out of the window.

The King ‘shall appoint’ Clause (1) of Article 145 states that His Majesty the King ‘shall’ on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint as AG a person proposed by the Prime Minister. This is what it says:

– ‘145(1): The yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the word, ‘shall’. It is mandatory.

The binding nature of the Prime Minister’s proposal is buttressed by an explanatory clause in Art. 40(1A): It says:

– ‘In in the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act in accordance with advice, on advice, or after considering advice, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall accept and act in accordance with such advice.’

The phrase ‘shall accept and act in accordance with such advice’ points to a mandatory requirement. There is a reason for this. The functioning of a valid government cannot be stultified by delay.

The Manifesto Point

The seventh argument is: ‘In appointing a non-Parliamentarian, Mahathir has departed from the Harapan manifesto that the AG shall be an MP.’

Many points answer this vacuous argument. The manifesto point is readily overcome. Second, I have said elsewhere, the AG ought to be an MP answerable to the people, through parliament. I have suggested that the Constitution ought to be changed to effect that. The Committee for Institutional Reform is engaged in just that.

Like the Council of Eminent Persons, they have had no rest. They are burning the candle at both ends. They are inundated with all manner of papers. They will suggest amendments—in good time. But until that change is done, the law, as it stands, must be complied with. There is no countervailing argument against that. There is, fortunately, a Half-Way House solution.

It is embedded into the Constitution. Art. 61 of the Constitution, which states, ‘(2) Either house of parliament may appoint as a member of any of its committees the [AG]… notwithstanding that he is not a member of that house.’

So, through this side-door, Parliament may, after it convenes, ask the AG to be appointed into its committees. The Committees may ask him to answer questions. In this way the current AG can be brought into Parliament’s deliberations.

So these concerns are easily alleviated. So any allegation that ‘Harapan has breached its Manifesto’ is really no issue at all.

Parliament has a right to override the King on executive matters

The King has executive authority over the Federation. That authority is, however, not absolute. It is subject to the dictates of Parliament: this is because Art 39 states:

‘The executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the yang di Pertuan Agong and exercisable… by him or by the Cabinet or any Minister authorised by the Cabinet, … but parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons.’

The AG’s appointment, under the current law, is an exercise of executive authority. If the King does not act on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Constitution grants another route to Parliament. In matters of governance, the primacy of Parliament is constitutionally entrenched. But Parliament has not been convened. That time is not yet come. It will. But can we wait till then?

The power of the Conference of Rulers

The final argument in the opposition’s quiver is that the Conference of Rulers have an absolute power to object to any suggestion of the Prime Minister. This is incorrect. True it is that the Conference of Rulers have certain ‘discretionary’ powers. Article 38 lays it out in great detail. They have a right to be consulted on certain matters.

These are listed with some care: these deal with matters relating the appointment of the King, e.g., include any matter relating to the special position of the Malay rulers, the Islamic religion or the rights of Malays under Article 153 (Reservation of quotas in the services, permits etc. for Malays). True also it is that that Art. 38(2)(c) states that the Conference of Rulers shall exercise its functions of consultation by —

‘… consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference’.

Some argue that Clause (6) gives the Conference of Rulers the right of carte blanche— blank cheque; that that it is ‘an absolute right’. This is what the relevant part of Clause (6) says — … the members of the Conference of Rulers may act in their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, that is to say… (c) consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference; In constitutional theory, the personal prerogative of the monarch is said to contradict democracy.

On a proper reading of Clause 6, this personal power is not absolute.

  • First, much of the strength of these prerogative power are diluted by constitutional principles.
  • Second, other clauses in the Constitution severely limit that power.
  • Third, the ‘right to consultation’ cannot mean an ‘absolute right to refuse.’

That is why the Constitution, with great care, has said, their Highnesses ‘may act in their discretion.’ This discretion is called ‘royal prerogative.’ Blackstone described it as the powers that ‘the king enjoys alone, in contradistinction to others, and not to those he enjoys in common with any of his subjects.’ So they are are ‘personal prerogatives.’ But the principles underlying the exercise of prerogatives have been uniformly accepted without contradiction across the world.

It is for that reason such prerogatives are carefully circumscribed. The way the words in clause 6 are crafted is a call to exercise, in their Highnesses discretion, one of the most fundamental provisions of the Rule of Law: when a constitutional discretion is granted, it cannot be exercised arbitrarily.

So the exercise of the ‘personal prerogative’ must seek to achieve the equality principle rooted as the basic fabric of the Constitution. It must be subject to transparency and good governance. It cannot be exercised arbitrarily. It cannot be exploited capriciously. Such a discretion must be exercised in a way that will aid democracy and uphold the Rule of Law. The words must be construed to comply with the spirit of the Constitution and the Will of the People.

Conclusion

Parliament is not in session. Not yet. Yet someone has to carry the burden of the AG. Charges have to be filed. People have to be hauled up before the courts.

The Cabinet is busy answering a hundred, perhaps a thousand urgent calls upon its time. This amidst the urgent concern that economic matters should be dealt with alacrity. Manifesto or no, Mahathir has to stop the haemorrhage.

The Cabinet cannot hang about. Time is of the essence. Mahathir has to act now. Those who delay the appointment of the AG are doing a great disservice to the toils of an elderly patriot trying to right a wayward ship. These detractors are playing into the hands of the pilferers who have purloined billions from our coffers. They sit pretty, smiling from their strongholds. They think nothing will come upon them so long as they keep raising one constitutional crises after another, and trigger as much unease and delay as possible.

That is why they are delaying the appointment of the AG. They wish to feel safe. They think the GE 14 is a pyrrhic victory. They feel they are untouchable. They must be stopped. As a nation we cannot sit idly by, while these detractors stultify the rakyat’s hard-won victory

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Voting in GE14 2018 – Part 2


(It was a war that Pakatan Harapan was not expected to win but they beat the odds – it was indeed a war that they were not expected to win but they did win in the end)

From the offset, the odds were stacked up against the Pakatan (PAS somehow had it easier considering their loose working relationship with BN). Some of the key opposition politicians were charged with criminal cases or misuse of power – Rafizi with BAFIA and Lim Guan Eng with charged under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount or value of the gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction. If they are found guilty, it is likely that they will not be able to run for the next General Elections.

And then, we have the delineation by the Election Commission where non Malay voters were moved around creating some of the biggest Parliamentary constituencies in areas that the opposition had won in the previous General Elections and smaller & Malay majority constituencies for Barisan Nasional. Court cases opposing these delineation exercises failed with the courts throwing the case out. In other cases, registration of new voters (mostly Chinese voters) was objected without strong reasons and registration was not done.

Then at the last minute, Pribumi party registration was deemed invalid and was suspended temporarily until they submitted the right documents to the Registrar of Society. The registration of Pakatan Harapan as one entity had no reply from ROS despite several reminders and follow ups. And DAP was forced to hold their party elections again to avoid a possible deregistration of the party.

And as usual, there were open threats especially to the civil servants from voting for the opposition and numerous lies that BN had hoped will cause the support to Pakatan to go down drastically – one of them was that Lim Kit Siang will become the PM if Pakatan wins.

The BN politicians were so sure of another win (after all they have been winning since 1957) that they continued with their arrogant talks and took the concerns of the people very lightly. They insisted that people were happy, rich and was so distrustful of the oppositions that they will vote for BN once again.

BN however miscalculated one key element that the opposition had – Tun Dr M as the Chairman of Pakatan Harapan. The Old Man despite of supporting BN in the GE13 was on the other side of the spectrum for the GE14. He reconciled with Anwar which was a big plus point for the opposition and managed to rally the others to apply the same strategy. Almost every night, we listen to Rafizi on his lori besar and Tun M speeches at the various place in the country.

We were dead tired – not surprisingly from all the standing for almost 2 hours and all that driving in the morning

So seeing that it would be too early for any “viable” results, we went to take a short nap first but then again, the anticipation was just killing me, so I could not sleep – I keep checking my phone for every 10 minutes for any news. At the end of the day, Facebook, special GE14 apps, websites, Whatsapp and even watching the TV – you name it and we were watching all. Although they were showing different results at the same time, it was a matter of whether you going to be optimistic then you check on the Malaysiakini website for unconfirmed results where Pakatan was leading BN comfortably or if pessimistic then you watch TV channels where BN was winning more seats than Pakatan – this is due to the slow announcement of the final results by the EC.

(Election offenses was already widely played out way before the actual polling date and yet there was little the EC did to bring them to books)

Overall the turnout by the voters as the time closed in for closure of voting was still “low” (EC claimed that most voters had voted in the morning) but it was not reaching the more than 80% that the opposition that was looking for. As at 3 pm (2 hours to close), the turnout was just 69% and it was a worrying trend if most of the voters had voted in the morning. And yet there were news that there were still alot of voters still queuing and had not cast their votes.

A 22-year old first-time voter named Bryan tells Malaysiakini that he had to wait more than six hours to cast his vote today.

“I arrived at my voting centre at 9am and only voted at 3.15pm. My voting stream was all young voters and first-time voters.

(Source)

It was evident that alot of voters will not get to vote by 5 pm and despite the appeal by NGOs & politicians, EC confirmed by then that they are not allowing for any extension of time. This caused BERSIH to issue this urgent statement:-

BERSIH 2.0 has told voters who have been caught in long queues to stay put and insist on voting even after 5pm.

In a statement BERSIH 2.0 said: “Those that are already in queue before 5pm at the polling station, please ensure that you are allowed to vote after 5pm.

“Do not go away even if SPR says you are too late. If you are already there and in queue before 5pm, SPR must allow you to vote and cannot ask you to leave. Stay and insist on your right to vote. It is not your fault for them being too slow.”

BERSIH 2.0 added that if the queues are still very long at 5pm, voters should take photos of the queues and the time and write down the names of the Ketua Tempat Mengundi or any SPR officers who refuse voters that are already queuing before 5pm to vote.

(Source)

And in Port Dickson, we even had this nonsense – which was caught by the public red-handed:-

Police have confirmed receiving a report about a small commotion at Sekolah Kebangsaan Port Dickson here this morning.

It was learnt that the commotion involved supporters from Barisan Nasional and PKR following to the discovery of fake ballot papers allegedly distributed by a 14-year-old OKU female teenager outside the polling centre.

When contacted, state police chief Datuk Noor Azam Jamaludin confirmed that the police had received the report lodged by a representative from PKR at about 10.30am this morning.

“We are still investigating the matter and it is still unknown whether the OKU girl, who allegedly distributed the fake ballot papers was hired by any individual or party.

(Source)

And there were other types of boo-boo:-

Voters at Balai Mesyuarat Taman Bukit Serdang in Section 5 here have been placing their ballots in the wrong boxes since doors opened after 8am Wednesday. The ballot papers – orange for parliament and yellow for state seats – were placed in boxes with labels that did not match the ballot papers.

An agent went on to check all 10 streams (saluran) in the polling station and found two with stickers not matching ballots. Stickers are placed at the front of the box, away from the view of voters when they insert their ballots.

(Source)

Results started to trickling down from 8 pm onward and just like the voting line in the morning, the results were announced at almost a snail place.

The time showed 12.00 am and no clear results was announced especially from Sabah and as the time continues to fly-by, we started to hear rumours of the PM meeting up with the National Security Council and they were planning to announce an emergency – a plan that was thwarted by the Sultans and the King. Such rumours did not help to lessen the tension of everyone at home watching the outcome at home. My brother in law even did not have his bath ended up drinking alcohol more due to the stress.

There were a number of upsets – no thanks to the PAS back-stabbers – they took away key opposition votes that would have made Pakatan easy winner of the seats. One of the obvious upset was Liew Chin Tong who lost to MCA’s Wee Ka Siong by merely 303 votes (PAS took away 4,975 votes from the opposition!). The good news was that Pakatan had won a lot of the key seats that were traditionally belonged to BN early into the voting count and moving forward, the remaining results would be on the traditionally strong Pakatan seats.

As expected MCA, MIC and Gerakan was wiped out (kept 1 seat each by sheer luck) and also surprisingly some UMNO key politicians – this was a clear indicators that race based political party is not going to an accepted trend.

Penang and Selangor would remain under Pakatan with a very good margin – thank God and now even other states started to fall to Pakatan – namely Johore, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah and Sabah. Things was looking good and if all goes well and no hanky-panky, no phantom votes, no serious breach of the protocols (especially on signing off the Form 14), Pakatan may just able to pull off one of the greatest record in history of the country.

The final tally showed overwhelming support for Pakatan Harapan:-

  • Johor – PH (29 out of 56 seats)
  • Kedah – PH (18 out of 36 seats); PAS (15 seats); BN (3 seats)
  • Kelantan – PAS (28 out of 45 seats)
  • Melaka – PH (15 out of 28 seats)
  • Negeri Sembilan – PH (20 out of 36 seats)
  • Pahang – BN (22 out of 42 seats)
  • Perak – PH (29 out of 59 seats); BN (27 seats); PAS (3 seats)
  • Perlis – BN (10 out of 15 seats)
  • Penang – PH (25 out of 40 seats)
  • Sabah – BN (29 out of 60 seats); Warisan (29 seats)
  • Selangor – PH (29 seats out of 56 seats)
  • Terengganu – PAS (18 out of 32 seats)

(The all important press conference – it is clear that everyone is tired and frustrated on the slow count of the votes but the win was firmly in the hands of Pakatan Harapan)

Then at 5 am something, Tun Dr M held a press conference and informed that Pakatan had gained the simple majority required and will be forming the next Federal Government. That was great but there was no news of concede from the now ex-PM, DS Najib and that was getting scary. What was he up to? I know that the moment he lost control of the Federal Government, he is going to be hounded for the various corruption charges and mismanagement of funds, something he will not take that easily. I had a bad feeling that he is going to go down die fighting.

(Well said – despite the win, Pakatan still had to wait for Dr M to be sworn in as the next PM)

With still some uncertainties with no official announcements from the Palace or the BN conceding defect, I had expected that it will be some time before we get the confirmation that Pakatan will form the next Federal Government. I looked at the time and it was almost time to wake up for work. There was no point of going to back to sleep. My son who I thought was sleeping came down to the hall and asked if public holidays had been declared – apparently he had been awake all night catching up on the election. Just when I was considering to message my boss that I will be talking half day off (no point I come to work and end up sleeping on the work desk), public holidays were announced by the Chief Secretary (because Dr M was not the PM yet).

And finally almost the 11 am, Najib finally appeared and conceded defeat and the Federal power was confirmed to be firmly under the hands of Pakatan Harapan. The sworn in of the Prime Minister however took even more time to be confirmed.

Anyway it was a GE14 to remember – it is a history in the making. Considering that the opposition will be taking over for the first time since Merdeka, since 1957, I do expected mistakes, slippages, politicians jumping ships and amateur like decision at least for the first 100 days but that is expected. But the cleanup of the nation had started on a strong footing. And Dr M did start off on a very aggressive manner and it started with blacklisting some key players in the earlier corruption acts from leaving the country.

I went to sleep and when I woke up, the air somehow smelt fresher and the environment calmer. Welcome to Malaysia Baru – the New Malaysia.

Read also

Report reveals BN Has Lowest Popular Vote in History

BERSIH – Hall of Shame

Voting in GE14 2018 – Part 1


(The queue to each voting stations – this particular queue where I was standing started from the staircase, all the way to the end, turns right forming another line, makes a U-Turn at the end and heads back to the left. At the end of this left is the classroom where the voting station is located. Look at the queues at the each of the floor – the line was long and it moved so slow)

Weeks before the actual elections day came (the time Najib was still undecided on when to call for the General Elections), I was worried – will we see another 5 years of nonsense and things to be continued to be swept under the carpet?

Personally, I didn’t think Pakatan will ever win the simple majority over the Federal seats but I knew that we had to at least defend Penang & Selangor from falling back to BN. BN had been trying all sorts of tricks in the book to wrestle back the voters support in these crucial states but failed todate. I also made sure to share any positive news on Pakatan with family and friends – the awareness is the key for fence voters to decide when the time comes. And as the days went by, I started to realise that the support for Pakatan was overwhelming compared to support I noticed back in GE13. Tun Dr M being the chairman and designated Prime Minister for Pakatan was a big factor for the support (of course, there was others like high cost of living, selective prosecution, mismanagement of taxpayers’ money, etc). Thousands attended Pakatan public rallies and it was more evident on the social media. Even my 90++ years old grandmother was restless and kept asking when is the elections as she wanted to vote for Tun M.

GE14 would be my 4th time I will be voting on who will be running the nation – so it was not a first time for me but I was still anxious.

Days before 9th May 2018, I double checked, no no, I tripled checked the EC website on my voter’s details and also my siblings and parents. All checked well although it presented a logistic issue. Me and my wife was voting in one place, my sister in another, my Dad in another and my Mom in another and all of us wanted to settle voting as early as possible in the morning before it gets too hot. Considering how some of the candidates were disqualified because they were found bankrupted on the day of nomination but was not the day before, I had nightmares of us going to our polling stations and find our names missing. In fact, on the social media, this worst case scenario was even considered as very real and voters were advised to keep a hardcopy of the voters search just in case it happens. And we did the same; both me and my sister downloaded the details on our phones and shared with all.

And we quickly worked the logistics – I will pick up my Mom first thing in the morning for her voting station because she is the furthest away compared to others. Once finished (which I expected to be done by lunch time), I will come back and pick up my wife in the afternoon as our polling place is the same. In the meantime, she will take care of the kids at home whilst I was out sending my Mom and once back, my Mom will keep an eye on the kids so that we can go and vote. At the same time, my sister will pick up my Dad as it is nearer to home – we want my Dad to go early and finish early as he can’t stand long in the queue due to his medical condition. And somewhere in between we had to arrange for breakfast and lunch for us and the kids. Phew!!!

The polling station opens at 8 am so we planned to ensure our parents at the respective schools by 7.30 am (minimum). And a funny thing happened as I drove out – the roads were clear and despite some morons changing lanes without any indicators, I did not curse them as usual. Somehow I considered them as “Pakatan” supporters on the way to vote and as such I want them to reach their polling stations safely and cast their votes in time. In fact, I was doing a silent prayer so that all voters – irrespective of which party they are supporting – will be able to reach their polling station safely and cast their votes in time. Crazy of me!

By the time, I dropped my Mom at the school at our old neighborhood, a long queue already formed – I guessed they must have lined up before 7 am. Looking at the long line and considering that there is no place to park my car to wait for her to finish voting, I told my Mom to queue up first and once finished, stand in front of the main gate of the school and call me. Gathering that I still had about 1 – 1.5 hours before I get the call, I drove around the old neighborhood (where we use to walk for miles to buy our sundry items) before deciding to stop at the food court for breakfast. The place was full packed – it seemed like most of elderly voters had decided to take their breakfast before going to their voting stations.

When the old lady at the food court served my hot delicious Char Keow Teow, she asked me if I had voted (she must have noticed the missing ink on my fingers), I smiled at her and said I am going in the afternoon. She smiled back and said that no matter what, everyone must vote – vote for change – vote for the opposition. I noticed she repeat this mantra on the next customer who had ordered Char Keow Teow. Just as I was finishing the delicious breakfast, my Mom called and said she had finished voting – the time was 8.30 am. I was impressed – despite the long queue, it moved fast and was done fast. My sister called almost the same time and said that Dad also had completed his voting and they are already back and waiting at my house.

Since my parents finished early, instead of waiting for afternoon, we decided to leave immediately to our polling station – 1. To take advantage of the good weather in the morning (it usually rained in the evening) and 2. To ensure we have more than enough time to cast our votes. Parking was not easy near the polling stations despite the present of traffic policemen. There even people triple parked and waiting in the car. We had to park far so as not to block the road – it was a good exercise walking towards the polling station and there were many other excited voters walking with us. Since we had pre-printed our voter’s details and know which station to go, there was no need to queue again and check at the front counters – we were directed by the kind lady at the ground floor on where to go next.

The time at my watch showed 9.30 am.

My wife’s polling station was at the 2nd floor whilst mine was at the 3rd floor but as we reached the staircase, we noticed queue already formed along the staircase. I think there were at least 100 people in front of me as I reached the 3rd floor and the line was moving very slowly. But considering that we had at least 7 hours before the polling stations would be closed at 5pm, we know we had plenty of time and we will be able to cast our votes. But as time went by and it was getting hotter and hotter and the line started to move slower and slower, I realised that we made a mistake of not bring a bottle of water. Smart ones had a fully charged phone to kill time. Smarter ones had a big bag and 2 bottles of water in it. One old lady at the polling station at the ground floor fainted and the EC staff & her relatives were quick to come to her aid and get her to rest. Others like the very elderly and pregnant ladies was given the chance to cut queue and go straight to vote – other voters did not mind and understood of the situation.

Thirsty and tired of standing in the queue, I finally reached at the front door of the polling station. The time was 11.45 am – I have been at the queue for almost 2 hours. The officer at front motioned me to come and pass him my identification card. Since I knew my serial number, I told him and that made it easier to check the list and confirmed my name. Next was the ink – I noticed it did not dry fast and I was extra careful when I got the ballot papers – I did not want any stains on it and cause it to be an invalid vote. I had a small tissue paper so I managed to wrap my finger on it and very carefully I cast my vote clearly. My wife managed to cast her votes 30 minutes earlier and was waiting for me at the main entrance (I did not realise it as I had put my phone on silent mode).

Voting done and we were parched – it was time to have our drinks before doing anything else. We rushed back and had at least 2 large glasses of fruit juice at a nearby food court and yet we were still thirsty. Lesson learned – next GE – we are bringing our bottles of water.

Part 1 of the tasks for the day was done – organising and casting our votes. Next was Part 2 which was following up on the election results and I know it is going to be one long day (or night) before we got the results up.