|Jimadie Shah Othman | Jan 19, 09 4:57pm|
|Universiti Malaya students from the opposition pro-Mahasiswa camp saw red today after discovering that last-minute changes had been made to the ballot paper for campus elections conducted today.
The changes involve a variation in the order in which the names of two pro-Mahasiswa candidates appear on the ballot paper.
One of those affected was Shah Rizul Ayuni Zulkiply, who had earlier lodged a police report alleging there was an attempt to bribe him into changing camp and running on the pro-government Aspirasi ticket.
When contacted, his campaign manager Nurfariza Zahrin said that in the original listing, Ayuni was assigned Number 17.
“Campaigning was done based on this number so that students can easily remember him on the day of the election,” she explained.
The change of numbers could lead some students intending on voting for Ayuni to vote for someone else, she said.
When voting began this morning, several pro-Mahasiswa supporters realised that Ayuni’s number on the ballot paper had been changed to Number 18, which had initially been assigned to a candidate from the rival camp.
Nurfariza said another pro-Mahasiswa candidate’s name was moved from Number 16 to 17, but did not find this too serious a matter since this was Ayuni’s original number.
‘Complaint to be lodged’
Saying the change “has raised questions”, Nurfariza said the order of candidates had been written on Form 8 which was issued after nominations ended.
Form 8 confirms the list of candidates, she explained, and is guaranteed by the campus elections guidelines issued by the university.
The pro-Mahasiswa group now plans to lodge a complaint with vice-chancellor (student affairs and alumni) Professor Emeritus Dr Azarae Idris.
Chairperson Norazali Zainuddin, when contacted, said attempts have been made since 1pm today to meet Azarae.
Asked if the situation could affect the chances of pro-Mahasiswa candidates, Norazali noted that students generally vote for their preferred candidate based on the assigned number.
“Students will not remember all the names because many seats are being contested,” he said.
UM’s campus elections offers 41 seats – nine ‘general’ and 32 faculty seats. Pro-Mahasiswa has already won 11 seats.
Campus elections have been deemed the bellwether of Malaysia’s wider political climate. However, recent exercises have been riddled with allegations of abuse of power and ‘rigging’ by campus authorities.