Do you remember how you felt on May 10, 2018?
Many people told me, that GE14 would be the last time they would vote. They were pessimistic of success.
But do you remember the run-up to GE-14 and the emotional rollercoaster?
The record crowds at the Pakatan Harapan’s rallies across Malaysia. The rush by volunteers intent on preventing hanky-panky at the election centres. Former ministers adding their voices to the heavy guns on the Harapan podium.
Remember too, the threats made by Umno-Baru thugs, and the expected reaction of the pro-Umno-Baru heads of the police and government departments.
How could anyone forget the camaraderie of overseas voters, who offered to hand-carry the postal votes of their fellow Malaysians, when they returned to Malaysia, to vote in GE-14. These were strangers who met at the departure lounges of the airports and put their trust in others.
On 9 May, elderly parents arranged for their children to take them to the polling stations. Normally-reticent young adults woke up early and formed queues at the polling centres, even before they had opened. I know because some were my nieces and nephews, and their friends. None had voted before, but they travelled back to Ipoh, or whichever towns in which they were registered to vote.
May 10, 2018, may have been Malaysia’s finest day, before the dark clouds descended on the nation 20 months later.
How does one describe the feeling that all our hopes had been dashed, and our suffering appeared to intensify, sacrificed to the ambition and greed of the unelected leaders?
With Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hasty resignation, the coalition was toppled. The change of power was effected without the need to cast a single vote.
No one could have made it up. It was the stuff of fiction – a king, interviewing his MPs. No-one dared to openly oppose this most unconventional method of settling a nation’s dilemma. That’s the destructive power of the three Rs.
Ironically, Anwar Ibrahim, the prime-minister-in-waiting, hoped to occupy the driving seat at Putrajaya after two years, but fate had other plans for him.
Why should we bother?
Malaysians, both in Malaysia and overseas, agree with the feelings of my friend, Jade, who said, “Why do we bother when politicians unscrupulously grab power and destroy the echelons of society? Or when billions of ringgits are spent recklessly and squandered by corrupt politicians and civil servants? Or when justice is blatantly disregarded and voters rights are sidelined?
“Why should we bother, when greed rears its ugly head and the needs of the underprivileged are cast aside? Or when corruption is glorified and the undeserving are unjustly rewarded? Or when the infamous have neither dignity, nor principles, but parade their desires and indulgences with pride?
“Why should we bother when personal gain and name are the order of the day, so that anyone in the way is trampled upon and toppled? Or when the public servants amass vast fortunes, while the man in the street is asked to tighten his belt?”
Harapan had their chance and they blew it. The open infighting, the poison videos, the arrogance of MPs who were heady with power.
Volunteers wrote to tell me how they sacrificed their time, their weekends, their family life, their savings and their holidays to prepare roadshows to help their MPs get elected; but their MPs refused to answer their calls, once they were in office.
We wondered why the judiciary system dragged its feet and allowed disgraced Najib Abdul Razak and other corrupt politicians to move around freely.
We gave Harapan the benefit of the doubt because only a super-human can undo 61 years of corruption in a few months. However, no one foresaw Muhyiddin Yassin’s treachery.
So, why do we still care?
Shouldn’t we turn our backs on Harapan and also on Malaysia? Why get hurt again? Why bother?
Like my friend said, “We bother because we have been brought up with a sense of principle. We have grown-up with the idea that everyone who works hard should be rewarded, regardless of race or creed.
“We bother because we want leaders who are informed, dedicated, honest and who work selflessly.
“We want to be proud to be Malaysian, to hold our heads high. We want to progress and have a better quality of life for ourselves and the future generations.
“We bother because no matter how badly we have been treated in the past, Malaysia is still our home, Negara-ku, where friends and family live together, albeit dissatisfied and disgruntled.”
So, we ask our politicians, “Is that too much to ask?”
Muhyiddin once said that Malaysians were fed-up of politics.
He is wrong! The rakyat is fed-up with “janji Melayu”, the corruption and the incessant use of race, religion and the royalty to divide the nation.
We are fed-up with the brand of politics of the old guard, practised by Mahathir, Anwar and Muhyiddin, and their loyal supporters.
We will not stand by and allow unscrupulous leaders to steal what belongs to us, especially our dignity.
We can suffer more oppression, or we can act.
I know what I will do. Do you?