Vince Tan continues his series of posts on campus elections.
Progressive University of Malaya (“Progressive”) participated in its second ever Campus Election in University of Malaya (“UM”) — this time winning its first ever seat for the Student Representative Council (“SRC”). I am writing this article to share my experience as part of the team, where I played the role of candidate and campaign manager.
Preparation for the Campus Election started at the end of October where all of the Progressive members met up to decide who would be the candidates for the upcoming campus election. The chosen candidates were Saudara Kalaivaanan Murty (first choice), Saudara Wan Hilmi Wan Hamdi (second choice), and myself (backup). However Saudara Wan Hilmi was unable to contest at the final hour and I had to fill in. The most challenging part was juggling my responsibilities as Campaign Manager and candidate.
The duty of a Campaign Manager is to prepare for all campaigning activities which includes helping to come up with the manifesto, maintaining the machinery, preparing the campaign schedule and crisis management. This took a lot of my time, as I had to skip lectures and tutorials just to keep the campaign going on.
As a candidate, I had to meet with as many people as I could, particularly those who I have not yet met before (first year students). I must admit that I did not play the role of candidate well enough, as the electoral results did not go in my favour. However, I am still glad that with whatever work we did as a team we managed to win one seat with Saudara Kalaivaanan emerging as one of the victors.
The background of the Faculty of Law, UM is very unique as no anti-establishment student movement has won a seat there for ten years. Progressive, which is still in its infancy, managed to grab hold of a seat on at the second attempt. The status quo at the Faculty of Law is such that a candidate running on an Independent ticket will always win, and it is the same this time where an Independent won the first spot (first-past-the-post system), while the second spot was won by Progressive.
Breaking the status quo means a lot to us as it indicates a change of culture where the Faculty of Law has accepted a student movement with an ideology of its own. This shows that change has already happened.
We owe a lot to our Chief Strategist Saudara Cheng Kaijie who masterminded every key defining moment which led to our victory. The sacrifices and decisions we had to make in order to get the results were all worth it at the end of the day. We would not have been able to do it without our very own “Zhuge Liang” masterminding the campaign. As far as the story of the Romance of Three Kingdoms goes Liu Bei did not enjoy much success until he met Zhuge Liang who would be his Chief Strategist until death. I am proud to have KJ (nickname for Cheng Kaijie) as my best friend whom I regard as my sworn brother till the end of time.
The demographical change this time saw an increase of voter registration from 450 persons (2013) to 463 persons (2014). However the voter turnout was not that good as we saw only 335 people turn up to vote this year compared to 371 people last year. The reason for the low turnout was speculated to be due to the disillusionment of the students for the level of dirty politics going on in campus. I myself was subjected to numerous accusations and character assassination just to prevent Progressive from getting a seat. This was also met by the interference of certain group organising forums to influence the voters to turn against us. One might ask — why so take so much trouble to stop Progressive? (Please refer to my earlier article.)
The status quo which Progressive seeks to challenges is the hegemony of the “neutralistas” who advocate the concept of holier-than-thou believing that partisan student movements have no place in campus politics thus only independent and neutral students should be supported. Sorry to say that is very wrong, as reality has proven that partisan student movements have achieved much more than what independent students individually advocated.
For instance, the Solidarity4AzmiSharom cause was advocated by student groups as well as the UM8’s Occupy Universiti Malaya movement. We believe that the achievements made by student movement groups speak for themselves as compared to the idea of independent individuals advocating a cause. Progressive advocates the concept of “new politics” that is based on the contest of ideas and principles and not the “old politics” of character assassination and personal attacks. We walk the talk and practice what we preach, believing that with sincerity and industry we can inspire others to fight for a better future.
I would like to add this piece of writing into yet another of my series in LoyarBurok regarding campus elections so that future generations of law students can read my stories and know how change has happened, and who are the ones who made it happen.