Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why must Anwar be allowed to vote?


The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that each country has the right to decide its own rules as to whether prisoners should be allowed to vote.

The UK does not allow its prisoners to vote. Neither do Italy, Greece, Austria, Armenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Russia and Liechtenstein.

France considers the ban on prisoners from voting as part of the sentence while Germany bans prisoners from voting only if the prisoner is convicted of a crime against the state or against democracy. Italian and Polish courts can, in fact, ban a criminal from voting even after his or her release from jail.

That is in Europe. In the US, the so-called leader of the free world, 48 of the 50 states do not allow prisoners to vote. And it is the same in many Asian countries, Japan included where the Tokyo High Court ruled that denying prisoners the right to vote is constitutional.

The opposition wants the government to allow Anwar Ibrahim the right to vote. This means Anwar must be given a special exemption from the law. What about the other tens of thousands of prisoners? Should they, too, be given the right to vote or does the opposition mean that only Anwar alone must be given this right?

Anwar was in jail during the 1999 and 2004 general elections as well. But this was never an issue back in 1999 and 2004. So why is it an issue now? And if Anwar is given the right to vote should not in the interest of fairness and justice all prisoners be allowed to vote?

But the tens of thousands of prisoners will not be able to walk to the polling stations all over Malaysia to vote since they are in prison. So this will mean they will have to vote via postal votes. And then the opposition will, as usual, raise yet another issue: the issue of fraudulent postal votes.

Basically the opposition is good at raising issues to make the government look bad. And not allowing Anwar the right to vote is yet one more of these issues being played up by the opposition. And the fact that the opposition wants only Anwar and none of the other thousands of prisoners to be allowed to vote is proof of this.

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