GE13

Following the very heated General Election weekend early this month, I was most painfully tempted to write up some long rant on how everybody should shut up, it’s over and done with, quit being annoying on Facebook, et cetera, eventually coming to the realization that in doing so, I myself deserved to be told to shut up. It’s like those 9gaggers who make posts telling everyone to quit paying Justin Bieber attention or to quit making Facebook statuses and tweets about New Year, but in their self-righteousness and annoyance, are ironically enough paying Justin Bieber attention and making posts about New Year. (But what more do you expect from 9gaggers?) Instead of producing that long-winded angry drivel, however, I gathered my senses, as you can see in my friend Qayyum’s article about GE13. Contributing to his piece has encouraged me to write down my own thoughts about what this year’s polling season brought to mind.

Both the process and the results of the election weekend seemed to bring out the worst of those on all sides; I won’t even go into details about the awful harassment done to supposed phantom Bangladeshi voters by the locals, but you may find this a bit difficult to watch. I don’t pretend to know anything about the validity of these accusations, but they led to a lot of incorrect assumptions and accidental racism, such as the circulation of the image of local man Chua Lai Fatt’s IC all over Facebook, accusing him of being a phantom voter and a government puppet. Everyone seemed to forget the existence of Chindians, who may have either Indian or Chinese names. (In Mr. Chua’s case, he is not Chindian, but was adopted by a Chinese family, hence the name change. They still should have remembered Chindians though.) People, if you would do research before submitting a work/college report, then please also do your research before deciding to harass someone online.

Aside from the morale-slayer that was the aggression towards the alleged phantom voters, I was also grieved by the number of careless drivers on the road. Mere days after I had passed my JPJ driving test, my instructor informed me that one of his colleagues had been hospitalised, following a serious road mishap on his way to a polling centre. Numerous similar stories reached my ears of a peak in car accidents as people rushed to vote. Fights between differing political supporters were also rumoured to be breaking out in various spots across KL. Needless to say, Malaysia was not the pretty picture that our tourism industry regularly paints. Not that weekend.

Malaysia Truly Asia

But then again, is it ever?

The two worst things that stemmed from the results of the election, though, I think most will agree:

1) the rather unfortunate communication strat. that a handful of BN leaders had chosen to deploy, in response to online outcry on social media. I think, rather than scapegoating the Chinese and kicking off this new term with such controversial and offensive statements, these coming 4 years would have been easier for BN had our leaders chosen to address the more glaring issues of crime prevention, decreasing quality of national education and corruption in the workplace. However, I have yet to see hatred-mongering more blatant than that displayed by Utusan Malaysia in its now-infamous headline. I think the reaction of Chinese Malaysian netizens, though not justified, are quite understandable after reading this frustrating publication and being blamed by the Prime Minister himself for the sordid election results.

That being said, I do believe that the hurtful words issued by our leaders were in the heat of the moment – we now seem to be moving towards correcting the said glaring issues, as well as seeing several other BN leaders come out and admit the injustice of blaming the Chinese. Self-control is a crucial quality in those seeking to lead a nation; hopefully this term will bring more of it in the said leaders.

2) the Facebookers signing whitehouse.gov petitions and writing to President Barack Obama to intervene in Malaysia. I understand that people are frustrated, that they had hoped for a vastly different outcome, but come on, everyone – the US is the last government you turn to for help. Especially if you live in a Third World country. The US does not perform well with Third World countries. Remember Vietnam? … Iraq? Anybody? My 62-year-old aunt still remembers the terror of the Vietnam War days, and we are still witnessing the disasters that transpire daily in Iraq.

Being such a small, cute lil’ country, Malaysia is often transfixed on the affairs of our neighbours. After all, we are easily impacted by them. But this often makes us overlook what countries further across the waters do with their business. The larger international arena is a tricky field to play – as Tun Dr. Mahathir knew during the Asian Financial Crisis – so please everyone, before approaching the hand that has the ability to help you, think about whether that hand has helped anybody else.

However, I hate to be completely negative, so I shall end this post on a far more hopeful note: last week, as I was out with my sister looking for some nice goreng pisang in Paroi Jaya, I came across a stall near the stadium. A boy, perhaps my age, was tying up a plastic bag of sweet potato for a customer, so I asked him, ‘Ada lagi goreng pisang?’

He shook his head apologetically. ‘Dah habis. Tapi ada keledek. Nak?’ He smiled at me. It was then that I noticed something plastered to the front of the kiosk: a big, bright sticker that read, ‘Ini Kalilah!’ Whereas I, on the other hand, was wearing a Barisan shirt that my brother had given me.

I decided it didn’t matter. I mean, I’ve always found it peculiar when a business decides to announce its owner’s political stance, because it tends to alienate certain groups of customers, but who was I to oppose this? All I wanted was goreng pisang. Besides, he’d clearly seen the large Barisan logo on my shirt, and had, too, decided that it did not matter.

I smiled and said it was alright, I didn’t like keledek goreng. But I gave him what I hope was a warm-enough smile to show that my refusal was of no political intent. I wished him ‘salaam’, which I rarely remember to do to people, and left.

The encounter had set me thinking. Does it really matter which leader someone wants? After all, political people are those who love their country so much that they do not stop thinking about its future. I can’t be against someone who loves Malaysia just as much as I do, even if he wants something different for our home. In fact, when you think about it, we’re really all just people who want different things. That’s all there is to it.

Sure, he probably trusts people like Anwar Ibrahim to be able to lead the country, whereas I don’t. But it is as I had tweeted:

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