Hoping for winds of change in Malaysia in GE13

Aneesa Alphonsus | April 14, 2012

Malaysians want to see the country taking a turn for the better after the 13th general election, although some feel it will be the same old story.

If you’re going to ask any Malaysian this question, “What are your hopes for the government post- general election”, you’d better get ready for an onslaught of opinions, emotions and cynicism – not necessarily in that order.

In the case of Manaf Abdul Samad, it was just cynicism when he opined, “It doesn’t matter who wins, because all of them are the same. You ask me what my hopes are? I can’t even bring myself to say it because right now, it would sound funny because it’s all wishful thinking. Yes sure I’ll vote, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ll get to see what I hope for in my lifetime.”

Coaxed out of his reluctance with the promise of another hot Nescafe into sharing his thoughts, the 62-year-old Manaf gives in.

“The biggest mistake Barisan National made is to have underestimated Malaysians, using all kinds of scare tactics to make us feel that there will be chaos should a new government come into power. We are not stupid. Many of my peers agree that we allowed the government to do what it has because we trusted them and we gave them due respect.

“Many people are terkejut [shocked] when they hear that we are speaking up. My friends abroad are surprised and say that they never thought we had it in us. My reply to this is always the same – we have always had it in us, but we have been patient for too long. The fight was always there and the government shouldn’t have thought lowly of its people. So if you ask me what are my hopes for the new government, I would say that it should recognise that we are smart and that we should be treated fairly and not be taken for fools who will not fight back,” he said.

There are, however, Malaysians like Hameed Hamzah, a 50-something business owner, who feels that one party will do better than the other. He speaks passionately about a Pakatan Rakyat government which will bring a new dawn in Putrajaya, convinced that there will be an abundance of honesty, transparency and accountability – the holy trinity of what good governance should be all about.

Hameed is asked if he is being overly positive. He is also made aware that when a government is overthrown in what is considered a democracy, it becomes quite difficult to ensure the utopic government he has in mind. Hameed rubbishes the notion and is steadfast in his belief that a holistic change is possible.

“My hope for the government after the 13th general election is that we would once and for all be rid of corruption in all its forms. It has become an institution of sorts just like nepotism has. Yes, I am aware that the party I support has had its fair share of money politics and shady deals. But things are changing, you know There is more integrity now. I am not asking for a miracle from the elected government, but only that they take the time to really listen to what we want and carry it out,” he said.

Peaceful government

Lina Teng, a 39-year-old medical practitioner, says it’s hard for her to have any thoughts about what she hopes for, post-general election, because her mind keeps panning to possible riots – of the racial kind.

Having grown up listening to her parents speak about the racial riots of May 13th 1969, Lina is already planning for what she feels is the inevitable.

“If you asked me what my hopes are, I would tell you that I want a peaceful government, one that prides itself on keeping its people safe. There are times when I have felt like the government, or the prime minister to be specific, is holding all of us at ransom. I say this because I feel like they want to win at all and any cost,” she said.

Concerns over a racial riot seem to be the most worrying thought prevalent in the minds of a number of people interviewed. Lina says even with a well-paying job, a home of her own and a pantry filled to the brim with groceries – “just in case something happens” – she still feels unsettled that the past will repeat itself when this thought comes to mind.

“There was an incident when a ‘leader’ of a certain political party raised the keris and screamed for blood all in the name of protecting a particular political party that championed a particular race. If this wasn’t bad enough, along came another individual who was so brazen in proclaiming that a bloodbath would happen to keep BN in power… So I’m sure you can appreciate why I have little hope, or even dare think about what I can hope for,” she stated.

Add to this numerous other incidents that will make for a hotbed of scandal, shock and secrecy. There were episodes worthy of horror stories – dismembered cow’s heads, blood-spilling gore and pig’s ears, saucy sex tapes, religious conversion claims and, let us not forget, the mysterious deaths of those in police custody or under interrogation.

Home-grown talent

Yandaro Al Amien (picture above, right), 33, an entrepreneur said the biggest travesty of justice is the government denying basic electoral reform rights to the same people who elected them into power.

“My hopes and what I want from the government after the general election is a long list. I am so sick and tired of seeing both parties play the blame game – it’s enough and the time has come to focus on direction rather than who has the bigger ego,” he said.

“Our education system is also in shambles – it’s another hot mess and we are lagging far behind in terms of quality and result. Have you seen the kind of fresh graduates we get? It’s frightening because they can’t even string a proper sentence in English and common sense is non-existent.

“I want a government that will cut out all this crap about Ketuanan Melayu [Malay supremacy]… it’s this kind of talk that makes the Malays fall back behind in the first place. I want a government that gives more access to press freedom and also one that is transparent. On a personal level, I would really like to see history lessons at schools taught based on facts and truth, not on government agenda,” he said, adding, “So be it if Hang Tuah was a Chinese. What’s the big deal?”

Earnest Bat, 33, (picture left), head of communication of a private company, has a tongue-in-cheek wish for what he hopes to see in a new government and states it simply enough: “I hope for a government that is run by smarter and more savvy people who do not take offence to tights and tutus, using these innocent garments as cause for political debate. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?”

But perhaps the most poignant of all hopes expressed comes from a fellow writer who said that her hope, post-13th general election, is for Malaysia to be given a real opportunity to explore its potential and reach it – that Malaysians abroad will return home because the country is finally a nurturing ground for home-grown talent.

The winds of change might just bring this about and who knows, Manaf might see it happening in his lifetime after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr.Jeffry Kitingan is a Christian Kadazan from Sabah. But is he in favor of Bersih 3.0 or not? He is either pro-Bersih 3.0 or anti-Bersih 3.0. If you are pro-Bersih 3.0, then you are not anti-Bersih 3.0. If you are anti-Bersih 3.0, then you are not pro-Bersih 3.0. I do have a lot of respect for Dr.Jeffry Kitingan, but on this important moment in history, he and other Sabahans and Sarawakians must make a clear unambiguous public stand. I think the Malaysian citizens need to know.


The UMNO government agreed to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the large presence of illegal foreigners in Sabah and the widespread issuance of Malaysian Mykads and identification documents. But UMNO has yet to do something concrete. UMNO has to do something concrete before the General Elections(GE13). Starting the RCI work after the GE13 is a joke.

The Hindu Malaysians have the same problem. There is a UMNO minister who asked the Hindu Malaysians to have "nambikei" in UMNO. The word "nambikei" means "faith" in Tamil language. The reality is that due cronyism and favoritism, most Hindu Malaysians were sidelined. Now an UMNO Minister is asking Hindu Malaysians to put faith in him. It means that if the Hindu Malaysians vote for UMNO in GE13, then UMNO will respond by helping to uplift the Hindu Malaysians out of poverty. But faith can be given to the Almighty, not human beings because human beings do err all the time. It is dangerous to put faith in human beings because they may betray you too. What Hindu Malaysians need is equal rights and meritocracy.

At some point in time Sabahans must draw the line somewhere. Waiting for GE13 to be over before the RCI can do what they should do may not be a good idea. Any way, its up to Sabahans to decide. Should the RCI do its work before GE13 or after GE13 is the burning question. If the Sabahans continue to tolerate and have faith in UMNO, then it is their own problem. It is for Sabahans to wise up. It is for Sabahans to realize that they have been shortchanged. It is for Sabahans to decide their own future. Sabahans cannot and should not wait and wait for the RCI to do its work. I say that the RCI should do its work before GE13; and this should be the ultimatum. I say that RCI should complete its work before GE13; and this should be the ultimatum. I say that RCI starting its work before GE13 is insufficient. Starting its work and completing its work are not the same. Starting is only starting. Starting and completing are different. Sabahans have waited too long for RCI. There should be no more delays. The RCI must complete and finish its work before GE13. RCI must complete and finish its work to the satisfaction of the Sabahans before the GE13. It is important that the Sabahans be satisfied with findings of the RCI before the GE13 is held. This should be the ultimatum.


The political history of Malaysia can be divided into two chapters: that is, chapter one and chapter two. Chapter One is about UMNO rule with a 2/3 majority in Parliament. Chapter Two is about UMNO rule without a 2/3 majority in Parliament. We are now in Chapter Two. The beginning of Chapter Two is the end of Chapter One. Similarly, the end of Chapter One is the beginning of Chapter Two.

Chapter One had its social, political, and economic implications for the nation. Chapter Two has just begun and its social, political, and economic changes are something we have to wait and see.

Do feel free to provide suggestions, ideas, comments, complaints or articles. Thank you


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