Saturday, January 29

The one annoying thing about the elections


IF there is one annoying thing about election season – be it state or parliament – it is the poster war.

Yes, readers may have read a rant similar to this before over the years – the poster war during any election season in Malaysia is overkill.

Previously the Eye had written on how political parties are always very quick to put up their posters and banners, but always took their time to take down the eyesore after the election. Sometimes, posters were left to weather the sun and rain for months.

The Eye had also written on how political parties, in this day and age, should seriously consider recycling flags and banners that bear only party logos, instead of wasting new prints each time the elections come around, considering that we are trying so hard to go green.

Instead, the same old story repeats itself each election. New flags bearing the same logos five years back are printed in the millions.

Even more wasteful are stretches and stretches of those one page posters bearing the candidates faces, enclosed in clear plastic.

Why must we look at the same face repeatedly stretched out metre after metre along the roads? Is it not enough just to have one big billboard strategically placed near traffic light stops or road junctions?

Do political parties think that the voters are so dumb that they have to be reminded of what their candidates looks at every section that they drive or walk by?

The haphazard manner in which these posters (from both political divides) are displayed also cause motorists’ ire, especially where they obstruct the view of drivers.

Businesses that have paid for permits to put up banners promoting their events have also fallen victim to the poster war, with some of the political posters now blocking or overwhelming these event or discount banners.

In Malaysia, the manner in which political posters are put up come every election ruins the aesthetic views of our streets, our towns and cities.

Posters are plastered and hung from telephone poles, road signs, road dividers, roundabouts or just about anywhere one can hang these posters and flags.

A drive through some low cost flats on the outskirts of the city proves just that – the Eye saw posters and flags being stretched from telephone poles to almost every balcony of the low cost flats.

Not to mention flags being wrapped around the metal legs of roadsigns, and even mini-electricity hub boxes.

A quick search on the Internet revealed that countries that tend to resort to the poster war during elections were those in Asia, Africa, South America the Middle East as well as poorer European and former Soviet nations – all developing or poor nations.

Developed countries on the other hand are moving away from such methods of campaigning during their elections, knowing that they would probably incur the wrath of environmentalists.

They now tap into media and online resources instead to carry out campaigns.

Some Middle Eastern and African countries are also heading towards implementing ‘greener’ political campaigning, despite not being so technologically advanced as the Western world.

City councils in countries such as Nairobi are beginning to protest the poster war as a mode of campaigning during elections, citing these posters to be a hazard to the environment.

Jordan, for example has very strict regulations on how political campaign posters are displayed. Candidates are not allowed to put up their posters or banners on walls, telephone or electricity poles, traffic signs, or public property.

Political parties and candidates are also not allowed to put up posters that alter the aesthetic views of buildings or be installed in any way that obstructs public safety.

The country has even gone down to minute details such as political parties and aspirants not being allowed to use adhesive backing or built-in lights on these posters.

During Jordan fs parliamentary elections in January, the city council of Amman stepped in and removed posters of various political parties when they were found to have violated the poster regulations.

Malaysia should also follow suit and enforce strict guidelines to putting up banners and posters during election campaigns.

It is about time that local councils here are also given the authority to take down election posters and flags that ruin the aesthetic view of our beautiful green city, degrade the environment and obstruct public safety.

A responsible political party is one that cares for the environment, not degrades it.