Saved by the bell

MARCH 14 — Tongues were wagging when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was pictured alongside his career arch rival Lim Kit Siang at the Citizens’ Declaration launch two weeks ago.

It was the talk of the town and many friends called it a defining moment which signals a change in Malaysian politics.

But we do not live in a one-night democracy. 

Any positive change requires an approach similar to an athlete’s preparation for a marathon. 

It’s how long one can last which counts, not how fast you come out of the blocks. 

This is precisely why I think we have got some way to go yet before experiencing meaningful change.

Because if we think this is the zenith of our campaign, we will suffer from a mental burnout before long. 

As they say, one never really knows it until one goes through it. And go through it I did. 

Let me explain. 

I have been at my current job for slightly over three years; working through a general election and being involved in numerous projects at both Parliamentary and constituency levels. 

The thought of work being a chore never really crossed my mind simply because I was thrilled with what I was doing. 

In the process, I even lent a helping hand to local NGOs with whatever little time that I had left. 

And that was when I hit a brick wall, after biting off more than I could chew. 

I did not fully recover from the injuries sustained after being detained a couple of times at protests last year and was running on pure adrenaline, thinking that it would last until I came out the other side. 

After going pedal to the metal at work, I arrived at a point where I just could not continue physically. 

It was an experience I learned from; that for any meaningful positive change to take place, there has to be proper planning and most importantly, time. 

And that was when I told my boss, “I need a break.” Because if not, I would have collapsed otherwise. 

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an event to announce a citizens’ movement against the government in Kuala Lumpur on March 4, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an event to announce a citizens’ movement against the government in Kuala Lumpur on March 4, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

This is essentially a position in which many Malaysians find themselves, both in terms of work as well as the present political circumstance. 

For one, there are a number of people who think that they can be world-beaters and live at a hundred-mile-an-hour pace without ending up like a train wreck. 

When it comes to our political uncertainty, Malaysians across the board experienced a nadir after the 12th and 13th General Elections proved to be “close but no cigar.” 

That was when heads started to droop and many people I come across recently seem to have lost that sparkle they once had in their eyes. 

People were losing hope and were beginning to be burnt out physically, emotionally and mentally. 

That could be the reason behind the lull in the last six months of Malaysia’s political scene. 

This “change” that everyone talked about was not being felt. 

That is exactly why Friday’s meeting of friends and foes seemed like such a big thing. 

But even those gathered round the table that day were visibly tired, so much so that they decided to change tack and band together.  

It could actually work and tip the balance but let us not be disheartened if it does not. 

The race has only just begun. 

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.