By George Chang
MELBOURNE, May 6 — Malaysians in this Australian city stayed up till the early hours — whether at home or at organised gatherings in various parts of the city — for a piece of the general election excitement back in Malaysia.
The biggest buzz was at the Seasons Botanic Gardens hotel in St Kilda Road where “live” online coverage was projected onto two big screens and five large television sets.
About 500 flocked to the event organised by a group of former students of Lasallian Brother schools, packing into the conference room, hotel foyer , bar and restaurant areas.
The head of the group, lawyer Chuen Lim, said the large turnout was beyond expectation and was an indication of the huge interest the election had generated in Melbourne.
Many came prepared for the cold night and those armed with smartphones and iPads shared the minute-by-minute updates they received from their folks and friends back home.
The crowd’s anticipation grew as the results came in but the reaction to victories by Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates was muted. This was in great contrast to PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar’s defeat of BN’s Raja Datuk Nong Chik Zainal Abidin in Lembah Pantai and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang’s triumph over Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman in Gelang Patah.
The conversation among those attending tended to gravitate towards their lack of confidence in the Election Commission (EC).
Their concern is that the EC failed to address the numerous irregularities that have been brought to its attention and it needs to do much more to regain public trust in the system.
The postal voting experience in Melbourne had been a memorable one for the 800 who showed up at the Malaysian Consulate. The long wait, four to five hours for some, was their main gripe, especially those with children and from out of Melbourne.
Compounding the frustration among these voters was the demand, which was subsequently dropped, for printout proof of confirmation of their status by the EC.
The postal voter dissatisfaction is borne out by the exit survey conducted by the Melbourne chapter of Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia which showed 53 per cent of the 494 voters interviewed were not happy with process, with only six per cent describing it as “excellent.”
* George Chang is a writer and media researcher.