Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 16, 2008. Malaysian D-Day?

Never once could I have imagined how interesting Malaysian Politics would one day become . To be frank, I enjoyed the US Elections more which is why prior to the March 2008 General Elections, I was actually following more of the US elections. Over there, democracy is at least like a democracy. You have political parties voting in their leaders and this is in turn based on the population voting in the candidate they trust most.

Even on election day itself, I wanted to avoid the rush so quickly went, had lunch and was back on CNN following the news of the US elections... :-) So much for patriotism... Little did I know the political tsunami that would arrive on our shores later that evening.

As we anticipate September 16 and our American friends await their presidential elections, one can draw similarities in both countries. The underlying hope that everyone has that it will be a better 4 - 5 years ahead. Where Malaysians are concerned, the hope that true democracy is in store and as well, a more transparent and democratic government will replace the cronyism & corruption of the past, propelling us forward to Vision 2020. In the US, the hope that democracy will shine through for all, the hope that Obama will be finally be the first African-American US President. Obama and our very own Pakatan Rakyat has one similarity... in that they in their own ways have gotten the younger generation enthusiastic and interested in shaping the nation's future and it is this single fact that has gotten me rooting for them.

My boss was asking me sometime back why I wanted so much for Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) to be the Prime Minister. My answer was simple... He gave me hope. The fact is, the recent general elections (GE) gave us one very important thing... Hope! First of all, I know DSAI is no saint but then again who in politics are? The fact is, it can't be any worse than it already is so why not give them a chance to prove themselves. The alternative can't exactly be that rosy. Prior to the GE most of us was content to just vote the opposition with the rationale of having check and balance (of course the ones we vote are capable ones of course... we don't pakai hantam (simply whack)) just so we can have representation in the parliament... Nobody had any notion that things were really gonna change. This pretty much accounts for the surprise when results of the GE trickled out.

All the same, it is still uncertain as to how things will pan out over the next few weeks but I'm thankful that since the elections, everybody has been pretty much been well behaved. This again I feel is one of the benefit that Pakatan Rakyat has given us a preview of. A country which is multi-racial in essence and not just in name. Prior to the GE, most of us would be cautious when we voice dissent and our dissatisfaction with the powers that be for fear of legal retribution and also ever so often has the racial card been played for the sole purpose of keeping a leash on the minority. This is sadly still the case most recently.

In the past, DAP & PAS as opposition parties have pretty much had a tough battle fighting the coalition government as both were seen as the extreme end on either side. It's not very far-fetched to say that PKR has become the glue that solidifies this partnership providing an avenue for the moderate Malays. And for an ethnic Chinese, it is really refreshing for me to hear a Malay leader preaching Muhibbah in the truest sense of the word preaching equality and fairness for all instead of just cautioning the ethnic minorities not to stir up unrest by questioning the rights of the majority. This in a great part has helped diffuse the tension that may have been a result of fear on both sides of the divide. It is my hope that this will continue to give us what can be truly described as a Malaysian Malaysia.

I am sure I speak for all my friends, Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Punjabis and Chinese when I say that there is no one questioning each other's rights. All everyone wants is a peaceful environment to raise a family and one where everyone is treated equally. After all, when we go to another country for business, study or to migrate, wouldn't we want to be treated on equal footing?

As it is, half of the country is governed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It is every moderate, right thinking Malaysian's hope that this new coalition will learn from history and avoid the temptation that is at present bringing down the Barisan coalition. PR has been given a very valuable opportunity to prove itself to Malaysians everywhere that it can do what BN has failed to do so it is now up to the elected leaders of the PR coalition to show us what they can do and show us they deserve another term.

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