LETTER | By the time you bother to read this, we would have probably gone through or are preparing for our 15th or 16th general election. If I don’t bring you to register as a voter on each of your 21st birthday, you have my permission to smack me on the head for being forgetful.
Do you know how important it is for you to exercise your democratic right as a voter? People in despotic regimes don’t get to vote you know. They don’t get to decide who runs the country. So whoever holds power are free to do whatever the hell they wish, sometimes real horrible things. And they don’t have to answer to anybody because they don’t hold elections.
Anyway I digress. In about a week’s time, me and my contemporaries will be voting in our 14th general election. The outcome of this election will decide what our future, your future would be. Around this time next week I could be shedding tears of joy for a new government to rule Malaysia or weeping in sorrow for the current regime to continue their shenanigans. Well, not actually weep in sorrow but more like sigh in huge frustration.
If everything goes well, then I’ll grateful. If not, bear in mind I have tried my best to advocate change. I did whatever I could in my power to persuade my family and friends to vote this BN government out. On social media, instant messaging, this blog, even face to face with some of them. I’m no politician, it is not my job to go all out and campaign on a stage or campaign trail.
Even then, I’m not sure I succeeded in persuading your mother to vote for change. To be fair she said she’s still mum (get it?) about her choice at the moment. I don’t know whether it’s a good or a bad thing because if you had conviction, you will say out loud and you will say instantly who you will be voting for. That said, I’m not about to force your mother to do something she does not want to do. It is just not right. She needs to decide for herself. We’ll see if I could change her mind in the next few days.
You see children, our country is in a bad shape. You might not see it now but by the time you’re all grown up, your generation will be the ones living in the mess that my generation has created. There’s a really bad guy ruling our country. You might have seen his face on TV, YouTube ads and many billboards on the streets. He’s a balding elderly guy with glasses, white hair and a smirk on his face.
This bad guy did some really bad things. He stole our money and use it to stay in power. He will never admit it of course and so do his friends and the news on television. But anybody with an ounce of grey matter and conscience in Malaysia knows that he did it. The evidence is overwhelming.
The co-conspirator that helped him steal the money had been running all over the place from the authorities from some other countries. The crime that they committed is being investigated in many countries around the world. The authorities in America have called it the “largest kleptocracy case in history.” Until now, I am ashamed that my fellow Malaysians keep voting this bad guy and his band of merry followers into office time after time. But you do know that I tried, right?
And it's not a small amount of money either that he stole. It's not a few hundred thousand or a few million but it's about 2.6 billion ringgit. That's 2.6 with 11 zeroes behind it. It could pay for your school fees and your siblings', your classmate's and everybody at your age's college tuition until they graduate. You better be pissed off at this theft because you could be getting free education. I'm still pissed off because I'm still paying for my PTPTN loans.
So if this bad guy stole our money, why didn’t the police or the courts arrest him and put him on trial? Well children, with power and politics, there’s a lot of things one man can do. Power corrupts people and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And it is not for lack of trying either. A few decent and good people actually tried to get this bad guy tried for his crimes but they were all sacked from their jobs.
You see children, this bad guy holds the highest political position on the land. He has the power to sack and appoint judges, even tell the police what to do. And sadly, he had abused those powers to the hilt just to make sure he escapes justice. So far, all our efforts to get him to face justice has failed because he wields so much power. Our only option left to get this criminal out of office is to defeat him and his party at the elections. Only then the new government will have the power and resolve to bring this man to justice.
If he did so many bad things and a lot of people know about it, why does he and his party win all these elections you ask? Well my children, winning an election is not as easy or straightforward as you might think. Our democratic and election process is so rigged and one-sided, the opposition has to work doubly hard and win double the amount of votes the incumbent gets in all the seats just to win the election.
Rigged how? Imagine a game of football between Liverpool and Manchester United. If the rules and the official are fair and both teams follow the rules, then the match will be fair and there will be one undisputed winner. Imagine however if United tells the referee what to do, ignores the offside rule, change the position of the goalpost and start the match with a five-goal advantage, you think Liverpool will have the chance the win the match fairly? Being a Liverpool fan I’m sure as heck think they will try their best and still beat United but the reality is probably much more stark. That’s the state of our democratic process today. One-sided and unfair.
Let me give you some examples. The ruling party pretty much control most mainstream media - television and radio stations and also major newspapers. They get to reach a lot of people in the cities and also villages and will only tell their side of the story (which is also known as propaganda).
The opposition has no such access to this media. If it wasn’t for the Internet or social media, they’d be at a tremendous disadvantage today. And all these propaganda, they worked really well too. I should know because I used to be brainwashed and swallow their words whole before I wizened up.
Then they also control all the government agencies and statutory bodies. The Election Committee draws up voting constituents that lumps potential opposition supporters in one place, breaks them up in another just to give the ruling party a better chance at winning. If you Google gerrymandering in Malaysia you will get a better idea.
And just recently, the EC decided to hold the general election on a Wednesday of all days. Although they would never admit it, holding elections on a weekday is an obvious voter suppression ploy to reduce voter turnout. Urban voters who are most affected by GST and cost of living increase will be affected by the midweek voting since many will have to travel a long way just to cast their vote. Some might not even bother to come back at all because of the distance, cost and work commitments. And low voter turnout will usually benefit the incumbents.
Apart from that the Registrar of Societies has done their best to delay the registration of the opposition coalition on many frivolous grounds. They had no problem with the ruling party not holding their party election for years though. Add that to the blatant vote-buying - cash handouts and promises of projects in various constituents by the caretaker government, all against election laws and conveniently ignored by the authorities of course. You’d be surprised that the opposition had a fighting chance at all.
Let me not beat around the bush anymore and tell you who are the main players in this “mother of all elections” and what is at stake. The three-main parties who are fighting to win our votes are the ruling BN coalition, the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition and then there’s the troublemaker PAS.
You see, PAS used to be together in the opposition camp but their so-called Islamic state agenda has torn the opposition apart and in the process give BN the upper hand. Personally, I have a problem with PAS’ version of hudud or Islamic law. It has no place in this multicultural and multiracial country. They claim it will not affect or touch the non-Muslims but we should know better than to believe that. Just look at Acheh for example.
When the Islamists become the majority in the government, do you think they will pander or care for the wishes and the rights of the minority? I don’t think so. Anyway, secular DAP is adamant in opposing any kind of Islamism law in the country (which is how it should be), and it is inevitable that PAS, prodded by BN and the mass media to make sure those two at loggerheads with each other which led to the eventual demise of the old opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat.
To cut the story short, PAS is now out of the opposition picture and they’re going at it on their own, which is bad news for the opposition but good news for BN. BN folks will always vote for BN and opposition folks will likely remain with Harapan. But PAS folks who used to vote for the opposition last time around could split the opposition votes and lead BN to victory, at least that is the most likely scenario. On the other hand, PAS will also likely lose most if not all the non-Muslim votes since nobody in their right non-Muslim mind would want to vote for PAS, so them losing many state and parliament seats is a real possibility. And the winner here? You might guess it, BN of course.
Hence this is why my children, it is pertinent we must vote for Harapan and only Harapan to bring about change. There is no hope left for BN to change and PAS, they’re also equally hopeless. PAS don’t really aim to govern the country at national level, they don’t have the numbers nor the support of the majority. The only people who will steadfastly vote them are conservative people like your grandpa and grandma and many of your uncles and aunts as well.
To them it doesn’t matter if the opposition vote is split or there’s no change in government, as long as their beloved Islamist party is in power, they’re happy. It doesn’t matter if the bad guy that I mentioned earlier is brought to justice or not nor does it matter that the cost of living, petrol and goods go down after GST is abolished as promised by the Harapan government. It doesn’t matter if there are institutional reforms so that the system cannot be easily abused again by the people in power. None of that matters in their tiny little heads.
You see children, it is imperative that we kick out the BN government in this election for we might not have another chance again. It is very likely that once the bad guy and his party get another shot at power, he will change the rules and destroy the integrity of important institutions just to stay out of jail. This bad guy is like cancer to this country and the longer he stays in power, the more likely his disease will spread into every fabric of society. Once that happens, it will take a very-very long time for our country to recover, if ever. And sadly children, it will be your generation that is left to deal with the mess started by my generation.
Children, let us pray that my fellow Malaysians from all walks of life, in every corner of the country will rise up just once and do the right thing, which is to kick out the evil BN government so that there will be still hope for all of us, for a better future for you and me. Amen.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.