Malaysia, Do You Still Believe?

Vivegavalen V Valu has 13 reasons democracy isn’t dead post-GE13.

The last 48 hours have been gruelling to say the least, what with supposed news of electoral fraud and underhanded tactics employed to win the most closely fought elections since independence –  one could almost be forgiven if an abstinence from politics is all that lingers on a weary mind. However, the message coming out thus far has been discouraging and I fear for Malaysia if her citizens are losing hope. We may have been inadvertently led to believe that there is only one chance left for change but this is not the case. I pen this letter to assure you that there is so much left to fight for, and in light of the 13th General Elections, here are 13 reasons why democracy isn’t dead; far from it, in fact:

1) On the 5th of May, the Election Commission reported that 80%of voters braved the sun and rain to leave the comforts of their home to come out and vote. It did not matter who their support went to – what mattered was the sense of responsibility instilled within Malaysians, that they needed to contribute, to speak up both for this country and its future children. This, to me, is democracy.

2)  Despite all the issues of phantom voters, “Houdini ballots”, blackouts and gerrymandering, the fact is that 51.3 % of the electorate voted for Pakatan Rakyat while 49.7% voted for the Government. The Barisan Nasional coalition knows this, you know this and I know this. The system must be changed and, in the years leading up to the election, must expect the common man to speak strongly about every policy, every decision and every contract that is made or given. 51.8% of the electoral roll is angry that they are not justly represented and are willing to sacrifice even more to contribute to this change in system. This, to me, is democracy.

3) For the second successive election, Barisan Nasionalis once more denied its two-third majority. In fact, Pakatan Rakyat has seen an increase of seven seats, giving them 89 Members of Parliament. Malaysia will not only have an incumbent under pressure but also a strong and capable Opposition who will fight for us. This, to me, is democracy.

4) The Prime Minister in the weeks leading up the 13th General Elections realised  that Malaysians no longer concern themselves with racial issues but rather on the progress of the country as a whole. This in large attributed to the fact that our country appeared to be practicing the format of a Presidential Election. The MCA and MIC banners  were almost entirelywiped out and their leaders too have admitted that the need for reform is real. The move away from racial politics is heartening and given the trend thus far, in time, will totally evaporate. This, to me, is democracy.

5) PERKASA will never again see the light of day in Parliament, for both Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli Noordin lost. The government knows now that Malaysians are united and will not tolerate racist bigots who were supposedly ‘winnable candidates’. As a citizen of a multiracial country, the drastic change in embracing a more secular approach gives me hope. This, to me, is democracy

6) In a predominantly ethnic Malay constituency, a Chinese candidate won and in a predominantly ethnic Chinese constituency, a Malay won. You only need to look at Pandan, where Rafizi Ramli thumped Gary Lim with a 26,700 majority. Malaysians understand that capability is what makes a candidate successful regardless of their race. This, to me, is democracy.

7) Incapable candidates within Pakatan Rakyat will not be shown mercy and will be purged out. There is no evidence bigger than the loss of Kedah to Barisan Nasional. The state has witnessed poor results and several cases of in-fighting and the people simply got frustrated and wanted better. This, to me, is democracy.

8) Money politics will no longer work and you cannot buy our votes – this is probably the biggest lesson for the incumbent after spending millions on handouts. The fact stands that, despite reports of electoral fraud in her constituency, Nurul Izzah won and she won against a minister known for his splurge in handouts. This will send out a deafening cry to all that transparency and justice will always prevail. This, to me, is democracy.

9) This election was also historic because for the first time, the opposition and incumbent coalitions each presented a populist manifesto with the people’s best interests at heart. Without knowing it, we have successfully demanded for issue-based elections where the focus has been on key areas such as the economy, education and cost of living instead of the usual ethnic-based agendas. This paradigm shift also comes at a time when Malaysia finds itself only seven years away from Vision 2020. The time is now and the promises made will not be so easily forgotten. This, to me, is democracy.

10) It was reported that mainstream media has taken a heavy hit in the last five years and another five years will see many crippled. This is to be expected since media and press freedom is at its worst in our country. However, the rise of our own ‘clictivists’ in various social media platforms has seen millions of Malaysians engaged and well informed prior to the elections. Alternative media is the way forward and any form of bluff can now be called within minutes. This, to me, is democracy.

11)  People Power. The common man arose to walk for a cause they believed in, Bersih or Anti-Lynas, UKM4 or even the “Walk for Freedom” campaign. We made sure our voices were heard, our angst and displeasure shared through peaceful protests with the people who could make a difference. We no longer sat back and passed the responsibility to others with indifference, but instead took control of our fate and reclaimed our country with conviction. This, to me, is democracy.

12) Put aside the criticisms of Barisan Nasional for a moment and you will realise that the party has changed albeit to an insufficient degree. As mentioned earlier, the winds of change are now knocking on their doorstep; it is up to them to embrace it or be left in its wake. The party has been given a rude awakening in a sense, in that corruption and abuse of power will no longer be tolerated but will be fought against with our votes. If the 2008 general elections was a political tsunami, 2013 is the rakyat’s final warning, to change or be changed. This, to me, is democracy.

13) Finally, the biggest positive to come out of all of this is the sense of belonging each of us has for each other and the country. I did not see Malay, Chinese or Indian on Sunday, for I only saw Malaysians. Yes, this election has been tiring and divisive at times but when the dust settles, we return to our schools and work desks, working together for the greater good with the knowledge that tomorrow will bring a renewed sense of optimism and hope for change. To me, this above all is what democracy is about.

The reasons above are only some of the truly inspiring outcomes of this election. As citizens of this blessed country, our role comprises of far more than just a simple tick at the ballot box once every five years. Noam Chomsky got it spot-on when he said that to “some degree, it matters who is in office but it matters more how much pressure they’re under from the public”. It is my humble view that citizen activism is the only way forward and the time has come for us to take matters into our hands, for after all, are they not problems which matter to us most? If memory serves me correctly, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison – what then is one election if not the beginning?  For now however, we have sent out a clear and strong message: that we will not be silenced, and long may that continue.

The winds of change are coming - embrace them or be left in their wake. | Image provided by author.

Democracy is not dead; it is merely plagued with sickness and the cure to this sickness is all of you, the future generation of Malaysia.

 

Sincerely,

A Malaysian Who Still Believes

 


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The writer is a born and bred Malaysian currently pursuing his LLB (Hons), a diehard Liverpool FC fan and passes his time interpreting the subtle nuances of the many voices of the planet while sipping his daily dose of teh tarik.

Posted on 7 May 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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7 Responses to Malaysia, Do You Still Believe?

  1. Thank you for your prompt analysis and reminder. It is refreshing to hear the voice of optimism and hope in the midst of so many down-trodden/negative sentiments. It is important to be reminded that the fight for a better future is a series of marathon, not simply one sprint. Crucially, while many despair, the changes you've highlighted are here to stay and will be embedded into the Malaysian psyche for good.

  2. senorv

    Dear Eddie,

    I think we have very different perceptions as to what democracy is. I clearly stated the faults with the recently conducted GE13 but I chose to focus on the things that went well noting that there is indeed much to do and fight for to make it better. Alas, I cannot argue for the sake arguing and I cannot fill a cup that which is already full. I would like to however thank you for your comments. However, forgive me for not taking it seriously. I usually do not entertain malicious personal attacks (agents? ego? self-esteem? roti and dhal? lack of humanity – and you claim you have nothing against a person you have not met nor spoken to prior? lol!) but there is a first for everything and I have learned how to better handle internet trolls.

    Good day!

    Sincerely,
    Vivegavalen.

  3. Vivegavelan

    Hi Eddie,

    Firstly thank you for taking the time to comment, it shows that you too still care and crave for hope, the underlying points of this article. There are a few issues I would like to address which I think readers deserve to know more about particularly in relation to the intent of this article.

    1) I am not in fact a BN buddy, close friends identify me as a harsh critic of the incumbent. The thing is, so what if this or any other article for that matter was written by someone affiliated to Barisan Nasional? Don't they too have the same right to be heard? Allow me then to paraphrase Voltaire, I many not be in agreement of your views but I sure as hell will defend to death your right to say it.

    2) I am blessed in many ways that I at least have a roof over my heard and I certainly do not live under a rock *chuckels*. Any well informed or internet connected person would know all of the problems you have highlighted above. The thing is, I simply had enough of the negativities and thought we could use a little more positivity and at least appreciate some of the things that had gone right in the 13th GE.

    3) In our haste to uphold what is just and right, we sometimes tend to forgo what makes us human in the first place. Compassion. Kindness. Understanding. For too long, this country has been under a fog of darkness, filled with scepticism, distrust and an overbearing siege mentality of sorts. The thirteen reasons above in my personal opinion reflects on perspectives. I leave you, the readers to decide if the positives of the 13th GE is enough of a reason for you to continue fighting for the cause, for true democracy.

    P/S: Vadi Velu is my surname, Vivegavalen is my given name at birth. I assume this is common knowledge to all Malaysians and unless it was indeed an attempt at an authoritarian tone, I hope you will address me as such in the future. Thanks!

    PP/S: The 'LLB (Hons)' was a sort of joke/motivator thing an 18 year old would do on his Gravatar profile. You see, to many it merely reflects a dream or an aim, again perspectives. I am sorry if it offended you, know that it was not my intetion to. I am however nearing the completion of my degree and hope to be able to use it legitimately in the near future. Cheers :D

    Sincerely,
    Vivegavalen.

    • eddiechong

      All the verbiage does not absolve you of your lack of perception and the understanding of the word .'Democracy'.
      I have nothing against a person I have not met nor spoken to before. The fact is we should not be confused by
      agents who dupe us into believing in something like ''democracy'' in the manner they intend for us to conform to,
      and subject all to a control. You, Velen, have fallen for it. For example, freedom of speech, we now have the EC tell us not to air our election irregularities or in the idiom of the day, ''do not wash dirty linen in public''., meaning to say that they will clear all rubbish and sweep them under the BN carpet.

      You are a young man with a huge ego and that is not good for your immediate future, taking offence over how your name should be used when in address. I do hope you will learn from this exercise that democracy as practiced here
      is too far off the mark, what with treasonous ploys of ghosts voters, rigging, cheating, and a host of scams.

      For a person at the dawn of his attempt at a career at Law, it portends badly for you. for there is a grievous lack
      of basics in the understanding of humanities, feelings of others, and a sense of being Malaysian especially in the context of the recently badly conducted GE. and you praise democracy in Malaysia!

      To your naive and underdeveloped mind, having a roti and dhal for B/F , a bed to sleep on and a thatching over your head is sufficient. If democracy gives you these and you are satisfied, well you should not pursue Law since if all of us come under this purview , then you might not get any work when you finally get into practice . My suggestion and very seriously is that you take on the task of becoming an economist or that of a social worker, both undertakings will give you much satisfaction and give you improved self-esteem.

      Eddiechong

  4. eddiechong

    The author Vadi Velu has a myopic view of Democracy,( a BN view), as it would want all of us patriots to see it in the 13th GE.

    Let me first correct the law under graduate that you can pursue a degree (LLB)in Law but there i no law study LLB (Hons). The Hons is the level of merit passing after your exams and all the necessary protocol of the course have been met satisfactorily and the award is in recognition of the work done.

    Velu appears to be writing behind the desk of a BN buddy as he has forgotten the election frauds like Phantom Voters,
    Gerrymandering of constituencies, discrepancies at ballot centres, the counting protocol being challenged, crowd control,
    indelible ink that is very delible, and a host of other irritants. Had Velu so much as admit firstly the irregularities, and
    said with apologies on behalf of the EC, readers may forgive him. But coming out with all guns blazing appearing to speak like an angel does not come anywhere close to the expectations of at least 60% of performing voters. So before Velu can claim his Hons merit, he is advised to have a sense of balance and humility to take a bow first. Such arrogance is not Malaysian. We have had 55 yrs of it and do not need an undergraduate to tell us what democracy is.

    Eddiechong.

  5. Mypatriot8

    It was a great day for me. I woke up early and fetched my parents to go and vote. You can say that my family are 'pengundi hantus' since we no longer live in the constituency where we're registered to vote. My parents and all four of my siblings still identify ourselves as being from there having lived there for over 20 years. It was great bumping into our old neighbours and I was particularly pleased to see my old schoolmates. It was as if we only last met they day before as we joked and laughed as we queued to vote. We even attracted the attention of the policeman on duty, who no doubt heard us jokingly accuse each other of being Bangladeshi phantom voters. The candidates I voted for both lost but I am grateful for the chance to make my voice heard through the ballot box and feel blessed to call Malaysia home.

  6. Thank you for your prompt analysis and reminder. It is refreshing to hear the voice of optimism and hope in the midst of so many down-trodden/negative sentiments. It is important to be reminded that the fight for a better future is a series of marathon, not simply one sprint. Crucially, while many despair, the changes you've highlighted are here to stay and will be embedded into the Malaysian psyche for good.