ALSO BY

By Steve Oh

GE13 is the time for M'sians all over the world

Election time brings out the best and worst of human character.

I was glad to meet an altruistic Malaysian recently who gives reason for hope that a corrupt government can be voted out of office.

Lih Ding left Malaysia 25 years ago because of the common complaint of Malaysians experiencing marginalisation and unfairness in their own country.

Since he left Malaysia Lih has not failed to return and vote in all the general elections. And he will be going home to vote during GE13 to bring about political change.

"I want to vote for a government fair to all races," said Lih with a glint in his eye, "And I have been doing it before 2008."

"The BN is corrupt, unfair and its policies are geared toward cronies, they are certainly not for the people and concerned only about politics for their own enrichment," the 57-year old chemical engineer from Negri Sembilan said.

I asked Lih why bother when he voted with his feet and left the country.

" I do it for the sake of other Malaysians - I see the good side of other countries with good policies... I see a change of government will benefit the people overall... I feel for my former school classmates who lament they can't emigrate, who deserve better..." Lih answered without hesitation.

It is with such evident altruism that citizens against corruption everywhere feel a kindred spirit.

I think of someone like lawyer Haris Ibrahim and his ABU Eagles and his intrepid activism to remove a government he believes is the scourge of democracy and a great wall of hindrance to the advancement of all Malaysians and the country as a whole.

It is altruism that will lead and change a nation for the better, not those who use race and religion to elevate themselves and pretend they are helping others.

If P Waythamoorthy says all he does is for the Indians, he and all his lieutenants should not ask for positions in a BN government but work selflessly for no reward like some of Malaysia's unpaid civic leaders and activists, and not trade away human rights for money and create more Malaysians who think everyone owes them a living.

As one who spent four years helping the Indian poor in various squatter communities, I know the importance of teaching people how to fish rather than playing Santa Claus and making them cultivate a handout mentality.

The real reward of selfless leaders is seeing those they fight for benefit and appreciating the tremendous respect we give them, but when they do the opposite they deserve our scorn.

Still, I have seen no shortage of altruistic Malaysians of full or part Indian ethnic origin who fight for all, not just those of their own race.

There is Ambiga Serenevasan, the Bersih co-chairperson, Irene Fernandez of Tenanganita, Dr KJ John of OHMSI and a Malaysiakini columnist, Anil Netto the activist-blogger, and other unsung heroes among a long list of Malaysians who speak out for truth and justice and have no concern for personal recognition or reward.

The scathing keyboards of Malaysiakini columnists Australian Dean Johns and UK expatriate Mariam Mokhtar and the findings of the incriminating Sarawak Report are credible because they deal in irrefutable facts, not rumours.

Is that not why Barry Wain who laid the blame on Mahathir Mohamad for the missing RM100 billion, and Deepak Jaikshin, who accused those of cheating him and being involved in the Altantuya murder, were not sued in a court of law?

The civic values many Malaysians want to see in their country are anathema to the politicians who are scandalised by corruption, including murder, and act above the law.

In a true democracy they would have gone to jail for a long time a long time ago.

Lih, with a chuckle, reminded me of the Anglican activist former South African Bishop Desmond Tutu who said, "If you are sitting on the fence you are working for and helping the enemy."

Local Catholic Bishop Paul Tan is no fence-sitter and his criticism of holding GE13 on Sunday is just another expose of the wolf in sheep's clothing who can only rely on media hype, money politics and spin to create the illusion of popular support.

"Will it be worth it if there is no change of government after GE13?" I asked Lih.

"Even if the opposition does not win, at least I will feel satisfied that I have done something to make a change for the people of Malaysia," came the quick reply.

We hear about the unfair criticism of Malaysians abroad by careless politicians, how they have been unfairly and gratuitously labelled traitors for forsaking their country, how little they know about the country and other slander, but I saw nothing of the sort in Lih Ding.

He was well-read on Malaysia and not content to just complain, he didn't badmouth the country, he has spent his own money to go back to join others who want to save their country and participate in the voting on their future.

An Islamic but upright PAS is always better than an unIslamic but corrupt pretender that has insulted the official religion of Islam by its unprincipled and un-Islamic antics and even slander the Christian community with false accusations.

The corrupt in Umno cannot pretend and pretend any more when even a former Umno menteri besar has jumped on the PAS bandwagon and turned his back on the pretender.

Altruistic Malaysians found at home or abroad prove the real traitors are those in power who abuse their powers and betray their country in citizenship-for-votes scams and resort to crooked and underhanded tactics to destroy others and win power, and it does not surprise many that Mahathir Mohamad should have the chutzpah to try to put the blame on others.

Many Malaysians will be making their way home to vote for change and "several of my friends are already in the country," revealed Lih.

"I have always voted for the opposition," said Lih, who will not find himself alone in the season of political change.

There is a circular from a highly-paid Malaysian paying RM100,000 in income taxes a year who wants to avoid emigration and add his name to the two million others statistics, he wants to stay and help his country and laments, "If only you knew how much my heart cries for you, Malaysia".

We know because we all cry for Malaysia, too.

Like a woman in travail, all tortured Malaysian souls will forget the pain when a new nation is born from a new government.

Only the voters sick of corruption and old political godfathers can deliver the birth of a new government at the ballot box.

The devil we know will then be sent to a political wilderness and know what it has been like for many Malaysians when they experience their own political Hell.

Then all sons and daughters of the renewed nation will feel the joy of hope no longer deferred and that makes the heart sick but a joy of hope fulfilled when a new government is born - a government that may not be perfect but perfect for cleaning out corruption and ensuring the country will never be held to ransom again.

Meanwhile from everywhere - many in nearby Singapore and others in faraway Europe, America and Australia - prepare to make the long journey to their motherland like on a holy pilgrimage and join others to vote for change with a certain expectation and battle cry in their hearts: Inikali lah!

They want to deliver their hijacked nation from corruption.

And Lih Ding will be there to make it happen.

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