Monday, May 14, 2018

GE14 - Negaraku Malaysia

When I was in primary school, we had to write a short letter to our then-Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir on the back of a hand-drawn Jalur Gemilang. My teacher told us that our letters would be delivered to the Prime Minister himself. I remember wishing for peace and prosperity. Back then, I looked up to Mahathir. After all, he was the man who put Malaysia on the map.

I knew not of Barisan National or the opposition party back then. I was always taught to be pro-government. It wasn't until I was in university that I was taught to question our government. I was lucky to have had lecturers who taught us to read in between the lines and to really study and observe our media. Things weren't all flowers and daisies with our government and in fact, were deteriorating for the worst. I studied at Taylor's University College in partnership with University Sains Malaysia for a degree that was phrased out simply because students only wanted foreign degrees rather than local ones. Such is the mindset that had planted itself in our nation. That foreign is better. All because our government is slowly but surely driving our country into the ground. 

A lot of my friends left Malaysia to study overseas, a lot of them ended up moving overseas, citing a better lifestyle and quality of life. Admittedly I missed my friends but never felt the inclination to up and leave because I was comfortable with my life in Malaysia. As bad as things got in Malaysia (surging petrol prices, GST, deteriorating quality of life), I kept telling could be worst. We weren't at war, we had ample food and no natural disasters. It was my way of dealing with the way our country was run. 

Malaysia had it so good and yet our development as a nation continued to declined, our currency weakening against our neighbours. Our reputation took a beating. When I travelled abroad, people knew Malaysia as the country with 1) the corrupted Prime Minister Najib, 2) the missing plane and finally 3) great food and Twin Towers. In that order. For shame. 

General Election 2013 (GE13) was the first time I had a say as a citizen and I casted my vote with the hopes of a new government. We had hope in that election, for the first time in decades, the people were beginning to see. As the day drew on, I saw for the first time, the dirty stunts the ruling coalition pulled off in order to secure the win. Phantom voters, blackouts - David Blaine would have been impressed. The party that got away with tricking an entire nation. It was so blatant and yet we could do nothing about it. 

GE14 rolled around on 9 May 2018 and I had just returned from my WWOOFing programme in Japan two months prior. There was a certain resignation this time to this general election. Mahathir had joined the fray on the opposition's side but how much impact could one man, well past his prime, make in changing a country. Selangor was safe in the hands of PKR, that much I knew and was thankful for. Then election day came and I once again placed my votes with a near certainty that BN would pull off yet another magic trick to secure the win. 

They almost did but the Rakyat wouldn't let them. When SPR made mistakes and tried to withhold the results, the Rakyat remained vigilant and steadfast. Postal votes were received late but yet the Rakyat did their parts to ensure those votes mattered. Through social media, Malaysia became a community unlike anything seen before. Have to admit, it was inspiring. 

However it was easy to forget that our country's hands were in the hands of the rural areas. Then came the surprise. The states which were the strongholds of BN started to fall to the opposition. One by one. Impressively Kedah, Mahathir's state followed suit as well. Never had I stayed up past 12am for an GE announcement. I was up until 2am, watching the opposition numbers rise in Parliament. As Mahathir held a press conference in Sheraton Petaling Jaya, I went to bed. Daring to hope against hope with a mix certainty that Najib and his cronies had some other magic trick hidden under Rosmah's hair. 

I woke up to a new day, a new country. Pakatan Harapan had won and the era of Barisan National was no more. I felt like a kid again as I watched Mahathir being sworn in to the position he once held. As historical as the moment was, it was also easy to forget that Mahathir too was the one who started Malaysia down on this corrosive road when he was with Barisan National. Najib was after all one of his proteges.

Mahathir as our 7th Prime Minister promised to right the wrongs and to set things right according to the law. So far, his efficiency in grounding Najib and wife for investigations has been swift as was his naming of the three vital Ministers for Malaysia. So far the Rakyat has seen him slip back into his former role as seamlessly as putting on a suit with a hint of an ego on the edge. Yes, he did contribute to Pakatan Harapan's victory but one can't help but look out for the former dictator lurking within.

We all want what is best for our country. For us to stand on par with our successful neighbours, to see our currency rise again, for the brain drain to stop, for Malaysians to finally come home and to see Malaysians call themselves Malaysians and not Malay, Chinese, Indian, others, Bumiputera or non-Bumiputera. As I watched the news, I sincerely hope (but not without a pinch of salt) that Mahathir with his experience and wisdom would be the one to kick off a better Malaysia before passing on the mantle to Anwar.

Until we have seen actions and results in the next three months according to Pakatan Harapan's Manifesto, let's dial it back down on the hero worship of Mahathir but continue to give him our support as a nation. Let him not forget that it was the Rakyat who saw faith in him again to guide Malaysia once more.

Make Malaysia Great Again. Majulah Malaysia. Hiduplah Malaysia. 

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