A little over five years ago, I wrote a blog entry the morning (well, two mornings) after GE12. I said a couple of things that now, in retrospect, were eerily insightful.
Five years on and we’re now past GE13. The general feeling is one of another massive hang-over. In fact, this comment overheard on social media summed up the dramatics; “feels like the morning after I’ve been gang-raped”.
But I digress.
Back in 2008, I wrote about the things I learnt from that election. In a nutshell:
1. Exercising one’s vote matters;
2. That it was not about the candidate but more about the badge he/she wore;
3. There was a growing voice (of discontent) among the youth; and
4. It was the start of a time for opposition to prove their salt.
About voting: Exercising one’s vote should have always mattered. But there was a long time during which it didn’t. That all changed in 2008. Five years on, it is more evident than ever. The gradual shifts in the realization of voters themselves of the power they wielded. Each one had a right, they were going to use it and no (alleged) illegal foreign import was going to steal it from them. Kudos! The awakening continues.
About the Candidates: This time around, it appears that the opposition were more ready, fielding candidates who were prepared and qualified for public service, rather than just anyone off the street (or behind bars) who stood for some kind of rebellion. But the sentiment is still strong – ABU (Anything But UMNO or conveniently translated as Asalkan Bukan UMNO) was a movement that began sometime in the last five years because of the compounding discontent and is an example of the increasing feeling of anti-establishment. And countless protests persist, post-GE13. The awakening continues.
About the Voice of Youth: the youth of five years ago, older and wiser this time, were evermore entrenched in the belief that “CHANGE” or “UBAH” was imminent going into GE13. For their sake, I pray that they have also cultivated patience and resolve because I personally believe that it WILL come.
But something else that I had observed about the youth between GEs; many who thought of themselves as inconsequential in the grand machinery of government and the electoral process had realized the difference that they could (should) make, they went out and got themselves registered as voters, not wanting to lose out. They began to take interest in how government worked. They felt invested in the electoral process. They took to the streets and stared down water cannons and tear gas. They stood up and questioned authority and were not afraid to own a voice. And when the time came, they made an effort to learn about the candidates before they voted. They even went to ceramahs to listen to them speak. Suddenly, it was cool to be interested in government and talk about Malaysian politics again. It was their government and their politics again. And so, the awakening continues.
About Opposition Government: I think they have done a sterling job, especially in Penang and Selangor. But don’t take my word for it. Take it from those who contributed to the majority-vote increase of candidates being returned to office. In 2008, I had said that it was too early to call it a new dawn. Rather, it was time for opposition to prove themselves worthy. And that, they have.
The heavy disappointment of the Oppostion Coalition's loss is most palpable among urbanites. After all, it is where they won the popular vote; 51% of Malaysians are pro-Opposition. However, voters registered within Penang and Klang Valley alone make up 33% of the total but is represented by only 21% of the 222 Parliamentary seats up for contest.
Najib’s unfiltered and ill-advised utterance of the phrase “Chinese Tsunami” is sadly a delusional knee-jerk attempt to find immediate blame. It was an “Urban Tsunami”, Sir. Continue to ignore the dangers of playing divisive racial-politics at your own peril.
Pakatan’s glowing 5-year track record should now be used to further their strategy, which must surely be a fundamental part of the next 5-year plan to capture a larger non-urban base. Because the awakening MUST continue.
It is easy to think that the Opposition front has been dealt a blow but everything points toward a progressive upward momentum. The PR leadership still seems to be reeling from the narrow loss two days on. Ironically¸ it is an obviously hopeful people through their outpouring of sentiments in a social media space that have displayed a maturity in understanding that the battle is lost but it was another emphatic step towards winning the proverbial war. If the people haven’t lost hope, the leadership shouldn't either.
Ok, fine. Brood for 21 days, if you really must, but waste no time in licking the wounds. The clock is ticking and it's time to start strategizing a counter-attack for the dirty tactics and money politics that will no doubt be faithfully employed again by the BN machinery for GE14.