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Tossing reason away like flip of a coin

May 21, 2013

Unlike the parties graciously accepting the results in the Philippines, the coin toss if used here could invite disastrous consequences.

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By Syed Nadzri Syed Harun

Coming just after a blistering general election in this country, the story about how the toss of a coin settled a dead-heat vote in the Philippines was simply amusing.

We dread to think of what might happen if such a rule was adopted for the polls here because even with the elaborate process, the disputes seem to be endless…and mindless.

According to news reports late last week, election authorities in the Philippines applied a tie-break between two candidates in the contest for mayor in a farming town in the central part of the republic in a decidedly old-school way — by flipping a coin.

When all the ballots were counted after voting, the two men running for mayor in the town of San Teodoro — Marvic Feraren and Boyet Py — amazingly ended up with 3,236 votes each.

To break the impasse, a decision was taken for the coin toss and as the story went, the two rivals faced off inside a ring of desks in a bare-walled room, taking turns to flick the coin to the ground five times.

According to the rules, the candidate getting the most heads would be proclaimed the winner.

At the end of the contest, Feraren, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, the son of a previous mayor, was declared the victor, throwing two heads to his opponent’s one. And the most interesting part — both of them accepted the result without much rancour. They shook hands and embraced afterwards. That’s food for thought indeed.

Firstly, there are so many methods other than our own out there that countries use in their election process.

The use of the coin to settle a polls deadlock for better or worse is an accepted practice in the Philippines and the world must respect that.

Secondly, unlike the parties graciously accepting the results in the Philippines, the coin toss if used here could invite disastrous consequences.

From current experience, the losing side would inescapably cry foul, especially when the winner happens to be a “member of the ruling party and son of the previous mayor”. There would be loud claims that the coin or coins used were “phantoms” which would only turn on its head side when flipped accordingly.

On top of that, the sore point would extend to the outrageous charge that the coin or coins used were shipped in discreetly from Bangladesh and that they are unstable, thus the element of cheating.

Next, the accusation would fall on the mediator or the person officiating the process.

If the result does not come a particular way, he would be accused of either being biased or corrupt and a whole army of party followers would jeer the mediator to kingdom come.

There will also be claims that a blackout suspiciously ensued just as the coins were flipped to suggest foul play.

Even if it had been verified that there was no such sinister power outage, the attack would continue regardless on all fronts, so much so that many are simply taken in.

As an extension to the blackout tale, the loser and his supporters would summon the mob and organise protest rallies, asking people to turn up in black as a symbol of “blackout” (when no blackouts actually occurred).

The rallies would continue in the hope that they would somehow turn into an Arab Spring of sorts even if the world has come to see what has become of the countries that went through regime changes via the Arab Spring.

In the spirit of the Arab Spring, the loser and his supporters would write an appeal to Barack Obama, complaining about widespread cheating in the polls process here.

And true to their holier than thou characters, the supporters would spare no bones to run down whoever is not on their side.

Sadly, some of us would only see what we want to see. Which brings me to the strong and very relevant words by Kenny Loggins and Michael MacDonald in a 35-year-old song.

“What a fool believes…he sees. No wise man has the power to reason away.”

Syed Nadzri is Redberry Group media advisor.

This content is provided by FMT content partner The Malaysian Reserve.com


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