As the dust settles in the aftermath of the elections, many citizens are asking themselves the same question, “Where do we go from here?” This is the burning inquiry among my fellow Malaysians as we struggle to swallow the results of GE13. I guess in some ways you could say that we were cautiously prepared for this outcome, it was a dread that built up at the back of our throats but we never expected the results to be marred by such blatant fraud. Put it down to being a little green around the ears but I for one chose to believe in the democracy previously promised to us and enshrined in the constitution. I still believe that real democracy lies in the hands of the rakyat, what I’ve completely lost faith in are the structures that govern that democracy.
The injustice has been documented and laid bare in the public sphere for all to see -the phantom voters, the mass blackouts, the mysterious ballot boxes escorted to constituencies where the vote was on a knife’s edge. Coupled with the gerrymandering that has become endemic in the Malaysian electoral process, it almost seems that the Pakatan cause was lost from the word go. Barisan Nasional has even said that the results of the polls should be accepted and that the Election Committee was spotless. Grace in defeat is a value I’ve always believed in but I refuse to accept defeat when the rules that apply to the competition are constantly altered to skew towards the ruling coalition.
It is my personal opinion that we’ve witnessed the greatest robbery in Malaysian history and we now have the unenviable tag of being one of the world’s dirtiest “democracies”. Just to add insult to injury, Najib Tun Razak had the nerve to suggest that Barisan Nasional’s poorer than expected showing in the elections was down to a “Chinese Tsunami” He insults the intelligence of Malaysians who know for a fact that despite his coalition’s most concerted efforts, Pakatan Rakyat secured more than 51% of the popular vote and that ethnic Chinese make up only 24.6% of the Malaysian population. Perhaps more offensive than that, his bafflingly thoughtless statement suggests that the Chinese community has polarised voting trends and their alignment towards the opposition would be dangerous for the country.
What he fails to comprehend is that the results of the elections indicate not an ethic swing, but rather a national one especially evident in the more urban constituencies. It would be wickedly ironic if it were not so tragic, but Najib goes against the very principles of unity his gaudy 1Malaysia adverts extol when he suggests that the Chinese community is splitting this country apart. You sir, are completely out of line and you insult not only me, but also my Malay and Indian friends who have stood united under PKR, DAP and PAS flags over the past five years. Your coalition does not represent all Malaysians equally and you, Mr. Prime Minister, certainly do not represent me.
Where do we find silver linings as the clouds of ash settle around us? For starters, we must be encouraged that 51% of Malaysians at least have some form of common sense and dignity. We must also be heartened that Malaysians came out in droves to cast their ballots in what was the highest ever turnout of voters – 13,268,002 voters for the 222 parliamentary seats with 11,257,147 voters or 84.84% casting their votes. At this juncture in time it is important that we channel our anger and disappointment into tangible plans of action. The sense of euphoric hope that was built up over the past few months has undoubtedly been dampened but we have to make doubly sure that it is not extinguished. It is easy to go into hiding after we’ve been knocked back but we can draw strength from the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed”.
“What happens now?” I remember asking my Malay friend over the phone as I stared numbly at the final tally on my laptop in the early hours of Monday morning. “What happens now is that tomorrow we fill in and submit our membership forms for Keadilan” he replied without skipping a beat. It is this inextinguishable fighting spirit that will keep us going and as far as I can see, I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment. In the wake of the general elections I’ve witnessed Malaysians coming together to initiate grassroots demonstrations – be it in the form of blackout protests, online petitions or student movements. What’s important is that we do not allow the spirit of Reformasi to die, we must keep the flame burning bright and we must stoke the embers in those who still choose to remain passive. If you choose to remain neutral in times of great injustice then you have already chosen the side of the oppressor.
What’s equally important is that we throw all our efforts in albeit in a peaceful, thoughtful manner. Violence only begets violence and if we claim to be better than our opponents then we must also be careful not to stoop to their level. I’ve witnessed the xenophobic witch-hunts targeting foreign workers over the past few days and I appeal to your better senses not to allow this cycle of intolerance to continue. After all, how can we claim to be for equality when we do not practice what we preach? Let morality be your guide and ensure that your longing for justice does not cloud your judgement. If there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few days, it is that we have emerged steelier and more united than before. The time for licking our wounds has passed, the time for us to stand up and be counted has come. All I’ve ever been relatively decent at is writing and this is my contribution. What will yours be? Lawan tetap lawan.