After 56 years of rule by the same party, it is high time for change. Amelia Tan’s original piece may be accessed here.
In the wake of the coming 13th General Elections, we have witnessed the onslaught of opinions and views. Many articles, posters, cartoons and videos have been flooding our Facebook newsfeed – each reiterating points on why we should vote for change or not.
To be honest, much of the stuff on my news feed are pro-change, which basically means a majority of my friends will be voting for an alternative government this coming elections.
But I have noticed a couple of my friends, whom I hold dear and very much respect, to be supporters of BN.
First and foremost, I believe that it is everyone’s right to vote for whom they think is worthy and I do not think those who support BN as evil or corrupt. Not at all. I know all of you well enough to know you are decent human beings and this is why we are friends. I have also heard your justifications on why we should give BN a chance and I completely understand where you are coming from.
If I may, I would like to state a few points in hope that I could offer an alternative view. Read with an open mind, my dear friends. I do not need you to agree with me and I will not judge if you don’t. We are all entitled to our own views. However, I believe there will be certain things that we will agree on.
ON BEING GRATEFUL
Many who support BN continuously do so because they feel that we should be grateful for what our government has given us. We are given access to education, an economy and a space to thrive, our country is relatively safe compared to that of Cambodia or the Philippines, we have EPF, we are being given BR1M and BR1M2 and we have been a relatively peaceful country for 56 years.
Before I go on to say why I think this is a moot point, let us first understand the role of government. The role of government is to basically do just that, govern. It is to provide us with education, health care, a healthy economy, infrastructure, public safety and to ensure balance and harmony in the nation in which it governs. Obviously, to govern and to ensure all these things are in place, a government would need money. Where does this money come from? Well, yes, us, the people, the Rakyat.
So, very simply, we pay the government money, in the form of taxes every month, to provide us with these things we should be grateful for. Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s like saying my boss should be grateful to me for coming to work every morning when I’m being paid to do it.
Let’s understand one thing. What we currently have; education, health care, EPF and etc, aren’t special things that BN has brilliantly thought of for us. EVERY country with a sound and solid government would have all these things in place, otherwise they would be considered failures. The point isn’t to be grateful that we have these things, the point is to judge whether our government has done its duty and done all it can to provide us with what we deserve. The answer is no.
Our education system has been failing to produce quality students. Crime rates have escalated so badly that no one dares walk out on the streets alone, even in broad daylight. Our infrastructure is inefficient and badly maintained. Our rural folks have no access to proper health care and basic amenities. The value of our currency has taken a huge plunge in the past 30 years. We are no longer as economically competitive as we were before, with the Philippines and Indonesia fast taking over our position and we are way behind Singapore in, well, everything. In the past 5 years, racial tension has been at an all time high and completely out of control with politicians (i.e Ibrahim Ali and his ilk) spewing racial hatred and offensive statements without getting reprimanded. And lastly, early this year, the Lahad Datu invasion and the unveiling of 800,000 illegal citizenships given to Filipinos and Indonesians in Sabah some 20 years ago.
All our lives, we have been told to be better. We go to school to be better, we study religion to be better versions of ourselves, we work hard to get to a better position in life. It is in our innate nature to want to be better. Therefore, when comparing ourselves to other countries, we can’t possibly compare ourselves to countries that are worse off and be grateful that we are not them. It is not about being greedy either. It is about wanting to be better and knowing that there is plenty of room for improvement and insisting upon it. Remember, we pay the government taxes to run the country. We have a right to want it to be better. It is also our duty to ensure that they be better. We owe it to our country. We owe it to our children. We owe it to ourselves.
ON CHAOS AND INSTABILITY
Many have cited this as the reason for sticking with BN. We fear that there will be riots on the streets and our economy will collapse should the opposition win. But that’s not very logical is it? If PR does indeed win the GE13, why on earth would they cause a riot? They have won! So think now, when you think of riots, who then do you think will be causing them? The losing party? BN? If that is so – if you think the party you are supporting would be sore losers and cause a riot thus disrespecting our democratic process, would you still endorse them as fair capable leaders? Is this how we were brought up? Kick up a fuss when we lose? Is this how we would bring our children up? To lose with no integrity?
And as for the collapse in the economy, for many years, our economy has been running on auto-pilot. I, for one, do not believe our economy will collapse because I believe in our people. Our economy isn’t run by the government. They have a part to play, yes, but WE the people, play a bigger part. We are the building blocks and we are the ones that move the economy. Do you really think banks and MNCs will fail to function once the government changes? No, it won’t. Because come 6th May, should there be a change of government, we still have to go back to work! It is still business as usual and everything will function the way it always has. The many great businesses in Malaysia did not happen because of the government. It happened because our people are innovative and hard-working. We made this economy, not our government. We just need a stable space to go about our daily routine. So if BN doesn’t kick up a fuss if they lose, deals will still be made, transactions will still happen and trade will still be very much alive. But only if BN doesn’t kick up a fuss.
As urban folks, it is very easy to forget that in Malaysia, there still exists a huge portion of Malaysians who live in poverty. These folks are so poor that they cannot even afford food. Do we know what it is like to not be able to afford food? I am eternally grateful that I don’t. But does this mean that we forget about these people in the kampungs and rural areas and pretend that they do not exist? We are all Malaysians. Why are they still so poor? Why hasn’t anything been done to improve their lives? You’d think after being in power for 56 years, BN would have AT LEAST helped these people afford food, right?
But no, the poor are still marginalised while corruption is rampant within the government. The one thing I fail to understand, my dear friends, is how can you stand by a government so corrupt?
Every year, our Auditor General Report states ridiculous over-spending and yet nothing gets done. RM15,000 for a laptop. RM700 for a calculator. We all know this happens and we all know it is true. It’s been so ingrained into our system and yet, we close our eyes and let it be. We admit that corruption is a real problem in our government, but which government isn’t corrupt, you say?
Well, my dear friends, this is where WE have to change. I believe all of us are upstanding truthful people. This is why we are friends. Now, because we believe in the truth and we believe in what is right, we must reject corruption. We can’t allow it to happen nor give any excuse for it to happen. Some of us have children and some of us will have children. Will these be the values and lessons we teach our young?
I know for one that I will instil in my child, lessons of honesty, integrity, fairness and equality. To treat each person with respect and to help those who aren’t capable. To always be kind and to be a good person.
If I allow myself to turn a blind eye to corruption and not denounce it, I will be going against everything I believe in. If I support a government that has been so corrupt for 56 years, I am subscribing to those values. How else then would I be able to teach my child the lessons I want him/her to learn? How do I look my child in the eye and teach them the very thing I’m going against by endorsing BN?
Some of us are religious and some of us are not. However, I believe that all of us believe in the same things and have the same values. How do we uphold these values and stay true to our paths while supporting a government that has been desecrating these values for years?
ON RACISM AND EQUALITY
I am a 3rd generation Malaysian. I’ve sung Negaraku every Monday for 12 years in school and I know the Rukunegara by heart. All my family is in Malaysia and I do not have any affiliations with China. I don’t even know how to read and write in Chinese and my Cantonese is atrocious. I only love one country. This country. And if it comes down to it, will only shed blood for one country. This country.
My dear friends, we are the same. It doesn’t matter what our ethnicity is. We are Malaysians. We went to the same school. We played the same games. We enjoy the same amount of public holidays. We have the same memories. Most importantly, we share the same home. Neither of us are more Malaysian than the other. Neither of us should be made to feel that way.
Our parents, our grandparents, perhaps their views were marred by differences as they did not grow up together. Perhaps they felt distrust because they were not privileged like us to live in times of better integration. Perhaps they’ve told us things, from their point of view. But it doesn’t make them right. We should know better. We’ve lived it and we are still living it. We know we can trust each other. We are friends.
My dear friends, if you see me fall, would you pick me up? I am sure you would. How about if you see someone telling me I don’t belong here? Would you stand up for me? As friends, we must stand up for each other. If I see someone mistreating you or stripping you of your rights, I would stand by you. This is because we are equals. We do not need BN to tell us we are 1Malaysia. We have been like that for a long, long time.
ON AN ALTERNATIVE GOVERNMENT
Many fear that PR would be no better. To be completely honest, I do not have an answer for this. I do not know if PR will be the solution to a better government. I do not know if they would indeed bring change upon Malaysia. What I do know is that we desperately need check and balance in this country. To have the same government rule for 56 years is not healthy. Let us use logic to analyse this. If you are the government and you have been in power for 56 years, wouldn’t you become complacent? If you know you’ll win every single time, would you try as hard? It is human nature to take things for granted and BN has indeed taken things for granted. It has forgotten the role it is supposed to play.
We need this change because we need to restore the democratic process in our country. We need the power to shift back to the people. We need the government to fear the people and not otherwise. This is because only through fear would any government be kept on its toes and do its job well. We know what it is like to have a really scary boss. We naturally do a better job because we’d otherwise be fired. It is the same logic.
Power needs to be shifted back to the people. If we manage to change the government, we would have won half the battle. We would then know that we can pick whoever that is best to run the country. If this does happen, we can easily boot PR out after 5 years if they do a bad job and elect BN again if they prove to be better.
Think of this as helping BN to change. BN will not change if we still give it power to rule after being so inefficient for so long. They can promise us a lot of things and that they will change but we have given them 12 chances to change already. If we boot them out this time, they would have to restructure themselves and compete really hard to win the hearts of the people. Perhaps then, we would see better policies and better governance. Perhaps then, we would have two strong parties for us to pick. And perhaps then, we could have intellectual debates about policies and plans instead of the fear-mongering and racial scare tactics we see in our election campaigns today. If we manage to change our political landscape to one which is that, then we, the Rakyat, would have won. Malaysia would be restored.
So my dear friends, please know that I am not voting for a change for the sake of it. I am doing this for you and me and our future. I envisage a Malaysia that is much better than the current Malaysia. I know our country has so much potential and I want it to be so much better. This is because I know it can be better.
I hope you have read this with an open mind and I hope you will give it some thought. If you know me, you know that I am not an extremist or a radicalist. I am just your ordinary Malaysian person who wants this country to be better.
Just like you.