Monday, May 6, 2013

13 General Elections - a day as a Counting and Polling Agent

I attended the training for PACA many months ago and during the early days, the number was not more than 30 on a good day.
In fact I lost some interest after a while as the polls were delayed until the end of  Najib's term and the training seemed haphazard.
Then about two weeks before the elections, there was an SMS advising those who had received training to attend a refresher course and so my wife and I went for that - now the numbers had increased to some 50 to 60 persons and the number of young faces was significant.
When we had the last training on May 1st, the number had grown by leaps and bounds and the room was filled to capacity; with more than 200 enthusiastic volunteers.
Then on 4th May during the last-minute briefing, our MP hopeful addressed the volunteers and the atmosphere in the room was full of energy-with even a new batch of green PACA wannabes who were no doubt inspired by the mega-rallies in the JB area; especially with Lim Kit Siang contesting in Gelang Patah. On polling day I woke at 4:50am as I wanted to prepare some sandwiches and also have breakfast before reporting for duty at the polling station in Taman Melodies, where we used to live. We arrived before 7am and were able to enter the teachers' car park of the private school and entered the polling station via the back gate. It could be considered a security breach as all the controls were at the front of the main entrance. We had a last-minute briefing and went to our respective stations(saluran)at 7:30am. The polls officer was a young courteous guy and at first there were three female clerks in charge of the various duties like identifying the voter, painting the second finger on the left hand with indelible ink and the issuing of the two ballot papers, one for Parliament and the other for state. The voting opened at 8am sharp and the turnout was heavy, with no lull in the proceedings. My relief polling agent took over at 10:30am and my wife and I drove to Taman Pelangi to the school where we voted for the past two elections. On the way we passed other polling centres and noted the heavy turnout. So we were pleasantly surprised to be able to park within 100 meters of the school entrance, wait two minutes to verify our saluran and then walk straight into the polling station without waiting at all. We were done with voting within five minutes. The only cheating I saw was the clerk at the SPR checking outside had a small piece of paper about A6 sized with a X marked on the BN symbol and the word "undi". I wanted to report her but was not familiar with the pacas in the school and she had hidden the paper under her work when It was my turn. The other problem with the polling at the school was that the ink used was not really indelible and my finger was totally cleaned up just after two sessions of dish-washing! What a waste of public funds - apart from the cost of the ink , maybe RM8 million and also another admin charge for the extra clerk at thousands of polling stations nationwide. So we were able to return home to catch up on some sleep before we were to report back for the next session at 4pm. At 4:30pm we reported for the final stage and there was no one waiting to vote. In fact from 4:30pm no one turned up to vote. At 4:45pm the polling officer announced that the station be closed but there were objections from one of the SPR clerks and also the two polling agents. So the station remained open till the official closing time. A note on the indelible ink: we were cheated by the supplier or the SPR as my finger became totally clean after just two sessions of washing some dishes!

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