By Ron CK Sim
After letting their voices heard at the ballot boxes on the 8th of March 2008, millions of concerned Malaysians were glued to their TVs and PCs, following enthusiastically the election results through the entire evening and the wee hours of the next day. Many were also staying up till dawn while celebrating as if Malaysia had just qualified for the FIFA World Cup Finals!
When the euphoria of such a historical moment slowly dissipated, collectively we smelled a new dawn for our country.
After all, like the famous Malaysian saying goes, “it is not every Sunday” that the ruling UMNO/BN has been denied the coveted 2/3 majority in Parliament and lost another 4 important states from Kedah straight down to Selangor (while failed for the umpteenth time to regain Kelantan). In physical term, UMNO/BN has been dealt a bloody nose and surely, a more prominent black eye than Anwar Ibrahim’s ‘self-inflicted’ one a decade earlier.
Being a Selangorian, the victory was even sweeter considering we had made the ultra corrupt, ultra arrogant and ultra racist Doctor (Gigi) Khir Toyo look like a real fool after his infamous pre-election pledge of “Pembangkang Sifar”. Judging from his on-going antics as an Opposition Leader (and a suspended one at that), this Doctor (Gigi) never learned.
For a moment, some Malaysians not merely hoped but even optimistically expected change to take place within the ruling coalition. We thought then, “Surely this time they cannot arrogantly ignore our voices any longer!”
18 months down the road, we have been proven half-right, half-wrong. Half-right because they did change but half-wrong because they changed for the worse!
While I am tempted to list down all their shenanigans to date, suffice it to say, the UMNO/BN government has become so desperate in hanging on to their power by all foul means imaginable. They continuously “sodomised” (pardon the word) our Judiciary and all other institutions of the state to do their biddings. Even the Malay Rulers, our supposedly ultimate protectors and symbols of loyalty of all Malaysians, have not been spared.
We came to a damning realisation that the “Political Tsunami” that swept the nation on 308 is in fact far from sufficient! What then will we need in the next General Elections in order to steer our beloved nation away from the path of destruction, and by extension to safeguard our future and that of our children?
Simply put, we will need a “political revolution”. No, not the physical kind for Gandhi advocated Ahimsa (non-violence), which the great Mahatma had decreed to be “as old as the hills”. What we will need, or more precisely the other half of Malaysian voters who still voted for UMNO/BN will need, is a “mental revolution”.
These Malaysians will need to be convinced that “Voting for CHANGE to a fair, competent, accountable and transparent government is the RIGHTEOUS thing to do than voting for STABILITY by keeping an incompetent, corrupt, arrogant and racist government in power”.
The UMNO/BN government has time and again failed us and with that, lost all its moral legitimacy to govern us. It has failed, or more correctly, refused to understand the true meaning of democracy. What they have been doing is (ab)using the democratic mandate given to them by unfairly and cruelly suppress the rights and freedoms of the very people who put them on the seat of power. The democracy they are practising is what I call a “tyrannical democracy” – if ever this terminology makes any sense to begin with.
PR is not without its weaknesses and the main one by consensus is the lack of formal partnership and common platform. Zaid Ibrahim has been tasked to look specifically into these areas and although he is facing some glitches, I believe he will eventually come up with a viable solution. Being a new entity, PR is bound to learn from their own mistakes as well as from others’.
There are also a few “wolves in sheep’s clothing” in the names of Hasan Ali, Zulkifli Noordin, Nasaruddin Isa and S. Manikavasagam (they collectively deserve to feature in another article on another day). These are PR’s people representatives whom many Malaysians (me included) do not wish to see as candidates again in future elections.
The question for us is not whether we can place our trusts in PR but whether we can afford not to!
At least in PR we can very optimistically hope and expect. Give them a chance to prove it to us. If we do, my take is a more responsible, competent, and accountable government as well as a more equitable politics will follow. For nothing so motivates a political party and politicians than the prospect of re-election. And since their re-election depends upon appeasing the majority of Malaysians, they will work hard to change the system and governance for the better.
More importantly, PR leaders are much more sincere and committed to create a Malaysia that accords with my Malaysian Dream – a country based on the universal principles of justice, equality and fairness in which I can proudly call my home.
If PR were to fail us (after at least two terms in power), we can then bring back a much-reformed UMNO/BN which by then (hopefully) has learned their painful lessons. Kuomintang in Taiwan and Congress in India are two fine examples of how a party which has ruled a country for decades can only learn while they are in the Opposition.
To drive home the point, can anyone in their right mind imagine Najib Razak with his cabinet ministers giving a bow of apology to the nation after a badly-handled natural disaster as President Ma Ying-jeou and his entourage did in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot last month?
For Najib and his rotten administration, there would only be denials and cover-ups as evidenced by the on-going cases of the PKFZ super-scandal, the Teoh Beng Hock’s cruel death and the S23 cow-head protest. Any surprises here?
When a democratic government is failing the people time and again, who else are responsible beside the politicians themselves? Yes, it is also the PEOPLE’s own fault; for they continue to re-elect these incumbents no matter how bad things get for our nation.
Our Constitution affords voters the means and power through their votes to control and direct government’s actions. It is high time for Malaysians to exercise their democratic power to remove this incompetent, corrupt, arrogant and racist UMNO/BN government or else our beloved nation is spinning quickly towards anarchy. Democracy is, after all, about people’s government, and politicians are but hired hands (and hence can be fired!).
With the momentum for change currently gaining ground and with a certain ex-PM’s useful reminder that “Melayu (Malaysians) mudah lupa”, it is a case of now or never. PR leaders and members alone cannot change the government for you. They can lead, guide, and inspire but unless YOU take an active role along with millions of others, little will change, and our growing national problems will only worsen. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
What we need and can do as individuals, and as groups of individuals, are:
– Collectively reach out to those eligible-but-yet-to-register voters and those registered voters who did not cast their votes the last time round – every ONE person we manage to convince to register and vote for change, we are ONE step closer.
– Collectively reach out to those less-informed voters (especially the rural folks) who traditionally voted for UMNO/BN – every ONE person we manage to convince to switch and vote for change, we are TWO steps closer (since a switched vote besides being a vote for PR is also a “cancelling vote” for BN).
– More challenging (but not impossible), collectively reach out to those hardcore UMNO/BN supporters – again, every ONE person we manage to convince to switch and vote for change, we are another TWO steps closer.
– And last but not to forget, collectively reach out to those voters who voted PR the last time round but have since felt disillusioned with PR due to UMNO/BN’s concerted media spin/propaganda as well as PR’s own weaknesses – every ONE person we manage to convince to continue to vote for change despite their temporary disillusionment, we are avoiding taking ONE/TWO step(s) back lest our efforts above be in vain.
We must collectively do our part to bind the above groups of voters together into a potent political force not to be ignored. Face to face, email to email, Facebook to Facebook, blog to blog, website to website – our chances can only grow. Let us make this our joint mission.
It is a new day, and a new opportunity to reach out and help another disgruntled Malaysian find his/her voice at election time; another opportunity to grow ourselves as patriotic citizens with a noble Malaysian cause; another opportunity to remake Malaysia as the beacon of democracy and racial harmony in the region and the world.
Join the Political Revolution. The time is right. The time is NOW.
*Quote of the Day: “The American people have now spoken, but it’s going to take a little while to determine what they’ve said.” ~ Bill Clinton, on the 2000 US Presidential Election
*By analogy: “The Malaysian people have now spoken, but it’s going to take a little while (read a few years if not decades!) to determine what they’ve said.” ~ Najib Razak, on the 2008 Malaysian General Elections
Injury Time: Join the PR campaigners and the Barisan Rakyat bloggers on the ground in Bagan Pinang. We will create a historical upset come Oct 11, God willing.