The Star, Thursday April 25, 2013
By OH ING YEEN
Datuk Hasan Nawawi Abd Rahman will be assuming his post as a returning officer (RO) for the fifth time.
At 59 years old, he is the most senior RO and possibly the most experienced.
He began as an assistant RO in Manjung in 1990, and became the RO in Port Dickson in the 1999 general election and 2000 by-election.
In 2004, he was the RO in Kuala Kangsar. In 2008 and 2013, he became the RO for Hulu Langat.
“Old is gold, the value of gold can reach almost RM200 per gram, can you guess my weight in gold?” he joked.
Hasan Nawawi remembered being slightly nervous when he first became the RO in 1999.
“Back then, when we announced the candidates on Nomination Day, the public can voice their objections against candidates that they deem unqualified.
“It was nerve-wracking as we have to decide whether to disqualify them or not,” he said.
One of the most memorable incidents was when he fired an election assistant the year he first became an RO in 1999.
“I received reports that he was misleading senior citizens by telling them to mark ‘X’ for candidates they do not want to vote for.
“That person was fired on the spot and replaced,” he said.
As an RO, he also received complaints on wrongdoings during the campaign period.
Hasan Nawawi remembers falling asleep at the polling station till 5.30am during the 2008 general election, while waiting to get clearance from the Election Commission (EC) to announce the results.
“Many fell asleep in or outside the hall, including the candidates and supporters.
“I agree that it was a wise move by the EC to delay the announcement to avoid any clashes between both sides.
Hasan Nawawi has seen many near clashes and verbal spats over the years but thankfully, no fights in his area.
All ROs have to attend a post-GE meeting and one of the suggestions that he had put forward was to have a cooling period, where candidates must stop campaigning by midnight the day before polling day.
“This is to prevent any untoward incidents.
“Previously, we could see different sides each trying their best to pull in votes and influence voters till the very last minute,” he said.
Hasan Nawawi noted that the candidates have become more mature with each GE.
“Previously, candidates from different parties would not even sit near each other, let alone greet each other.
“Now, I see them shaking hands, chatting with each other and even having meals together,” he said.
He also noted the differing mentality of voters.
“Previously, for a party, no matter who stands as the candidate, it is a sure win, now people take into account both the candidate and party.
“Hence, there is a risk for parachute candidates,” he said.
With multi-cornered fights (six in Kajang and three in Semenyih), this may be the most exciting showdown Hasan Nawawi will witness.
The excitement in his voice was evident when he announced that there will be a six-cornered fight in Kajang.
“It is the most exciting election as many political parties are involved, the first time PSM is contesting and the first time we have independent candidates in Kajang,” he said.
Hasan Nawawi, also the Kajang Municipal Council president, noted that some of the candidates were former councillors, such as incumbents Datuk Johan Abd Aziz and Ismail Sani.
Meanwhile, PAS candidates Razaly Hassan and Shafie Ngah for Dusun Tua and Bangi respectively, DAP candidates for Balakong and Kuala Kubu Baru Eddie Ng and Lee Kee Hiong as well as PSM candidate for Semenyih S. Arutchelvam were all MPKj councillors.
If all goes according to plan, Hasan Nawawi wants to retire next year and pursue his dream to cycle in various countries.