As a first time voter, I am genuinely excited about the prospect of queuing up and heading to the polling stations tomorrow morning. This is the first mark that I am going to make in steering Malaysia’s future. How exciting is that? However, from what I have heard and read, that might not even come true: how do we know that our votes will even get counted? How do we know that anything that has been promised will come to fruition? We don’t. Janji ditepati? I think not.
People haveasked me if I am registered to vote this election. “Of course!” I answer. Theaudience in question generally seemed surprised because I haven’t been around much in the past seven years, and I am not like some of my friends who are extremely passionate about politics. I dislike talking about politics and money; subjects that make the world spin that much faster. I am like much of the silent majority who have not taken politics to social media: I stand and I watch and I make up my mind on the sidelines. But, unfortunately, as Aung San Suu Kyi said, “even if you don’t like politics, politics will come to you.”
People have also immediately come to assume that because I am young, I must be for the opposition party. And how I believe in Change, how I believe that Change isn’t always a less calamitous situation. I am no stranger to that concept. I believe in Change, this mysterious, terrifying concept with neither head nor tail. None of us knows what lies ahead should the opposition win. There are no clear policies that have been laid out on either side, which I find quite disconcerting. In a country riddled with filthy politics, I find it difficult to believe in the coming of a just and Rakyat-centric government regardless of who wins and who promises what. I believe that we have seen and heard it all, so it is time somebody carried out some of his or her promises to the people.
I also find it terrible and shameful that friends have split because of politics. Those who vote for BN are afraid of Change, believers in peace and stability. Cowards, some say. Am I any braver for voting for the opposition? No, I don’t think so. But I believe, like many others, that my vote can catalyse an avalanche that will cause the incumbent ruling party to wake the hell up and start seeing that the situation cannot continue as it is. My belief is that Malaysian political integrity has sunk so low that whatever imminent change is upon us, must be brighter than the present. Our votes are possibly the only thing that can cull these malignant tumours of greed that have spread within the incumbent party.
I am voting tomorrow for the opposition not based on my trust in the candidates of the opposition party (that is another story), but because voting for them would mean voting for a less sullied party, a party who can still claim to do right by the Rakyat because they have not yet been tested. Is it the right thing to do? I think so. Everyone deserves a fair turn. Give them a chance, as my eighty-five-year-old grandfather says. Fifty-six years is far, far too long to have sat on one’s laurels and gathered gold at one’s feet.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I have quixotic, almost crazy notions about the future of this country: unity, integrity, the absence of racial and religious politics that is unique to only Malaysia. I don’t know if any of those things will come to pass in my lifetime, but collectively, we could try to make it happen. Despite having spent the last seven years abroad, Malaysia is still the only place I can and will call my home. I cannot envision another country I’d be prouder to come from. I am not proud of our government, but I am proud of Malaysians, and I have faith that the majority of us will do right by our nation tomorrow by voting wisely and peacefully.