HKU's Malaysian students question election results back home

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 May, 2013, 9:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 11:16am

A group of 30 Malaysian students, most of whom were too young to vote, gathered on Monday at the Democracy Wall at Hong Kong University to vent their deep distrust of Malaysia’s election results that brought the governing coalition its 13th straight election win.

The messages they posted on the wall included: “I am against Dirty Politics” “Unfair! Rigged!” “I want democracy, not magic” and “Democracy is dead”. The posters were written in Chinese, English and Malay.

The school’s student union issued a poster saying: “Fair elections and justice done, this is what we all demand for Malaysia, HKU students got your back.”

A 20-year-old female student from Malaysia, said: “It’s hard to figure out what is true or not, but when I see all these photos and videos online suggesting election fraud and the government is claiming they’ve had a clean election, I want answers.”

Another student, 22, voted at the Malaysian consulate in Hong Kong last week and she said the experience left her with serious suspicions.

“When I was voting and just about to mark the ballot, I got a phone call from a private number. I luckily didn’t pick up because then my vote would’ve been disqualified.

“I later read all over social media that it is a trick to call voters in voting booths to disqualify them. I don’t know what to believe. The government has a lot to explain.”

HKU professor Renaud Egreteau, who specialises in Myanmar politics, but sees parallels with those in Malaysia, said people should be careful when using social media as sources of information.

“Bloggers and social networkers…increasingly use Facebook and personal blogs as platforms not only for communication, but for propaganda purposes," he said, adding that sometimes they were even used as conduits of hatred and violence.

Lee Boon Kiat, a graduate student in the school’s Department of Microbiology, didn’t feel confident casting his vote by mail or at the consulate, so he flew back to Malaysia on Friday to vote in person.

“My station seemed quite normal but when I was leaving, there was a riot of people trying to block the entrance so a busload of people who looked foreign – maybe Bangladeshi – wouldn’t be able to go in and vote.

“Unless [the government] gives very good reasons to convince us the elections were fair, I think there will be more angry protests around the world.”