The Armed Forces chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin has got it all wrong when he hit out against former military personnel for exposing electoral fraud in past general elections in the manipulation of postal votes as an act of betrayal and questioned their loyalty to the armed forces. In actual fact, the ex-military personnel who come forward to expose postal vote fraud are the true patriots who love the army and the country as they want to see the army continue to be held in the highest esteem by all sectors of society and the country restored to the right track of a healthy democratic nation. Zulkifeli’s rhetorical question “How can we be loyal to you if you are disloyal to us” is not only misplaced but is the classic example of how far the public service, of which the armed forces are part, have deviated from its proper non-partisan and professional role. The object of loyalty of all Malaysians, whether individuals, groups or public servants including armed forces must be to the country and the Yang di Pertuan Agong and no other as it is not only wrong, but a great national disservice to indoctrinate anyone including public servants and the armed forces to be more loyal to Umno than to the country or to equate loyalty to Umno as loyalty to the country. The four ex-servicemen, Major (Rtd) Risman Mastor, Kamarulzaman Ibrahim, Mohamed Nasir Ahmad and Mohd Kamil Omar who have come forward to admit that they had been ordered by their commanding officers to mark postal votes from hundreds and thousands of personnel who were out of the field in three separate general elections between 1978 and 1999 should be commended for their public spiritedness and great sense of patriotism instead of being castigated as “traitors”. What the four ex-servicemen revealed has not come as a surprise to the Malaysian public as such electoral malpractices with regard to postal ballots is an open secret for decades. These exposes of postal ballot frauds in previous general elections are not attacks on the integrity, competence and loyalty of the armed forces but patriotic efforts to remove flaws and abuses in the postal ballot system to ensure that every military personnel can freely vote for the candidate of his or her choice in elections. What Zulkifeli should have done is take effective measures to eradicate these electoral flaws and abuses as for instance allowing candidates to send polling agents into military establishments to supervise the postal ballot voting process instead of making emotional and baseless attacks questioning the loyalty of patriotic Malaysians who want to see a free, fair and clean electoral system.
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