Voting is a right and privilege for Malaysians — Aaron Denison

JANUARY 10 — I want to boycott this year’s election lah! Young people should boycott the upcoming election because a young candidate was not presented as a prime minister! What is the point voting? We can’t change anything.

These are the few comments that I have read as well as heard over the past few days and even last year when I randomly asked Malaysians about the 14th General Election. At the this moment, many Malaysians especially the young voters are complaining about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad being the opposition candidate for prime minister and using this as a reason to not VOTE in the upcoming general election.

These are all baseless reasons because voting is a part of democracy and it our responsibility as a citizen of Malaysia to vote in an election regardless of who we actually support.

We should be thankful and even feel lucky that we have the privilege as well as a choice to vote for the rulling government or the opposition coalition.

Malaysians and especially young voters should remember that some countries such as China and North Korea do vote in elections but they don’t have much of a choice that to vote for the rulling party as both countries a ruled by a single political party.

In Russia which is a democratic country, elections have been a subject of international criticism because rampant cases of ballot-stuffing were increasingly recorded since 2003 and the predictability of a Putin as well as his party’s victory is so high that its question their democracy.

We are definitely better than Russia in managing our elections as the ruling party does not unanimously win the elections. We as Malaysians continue to complain although we have a choice between the Barisan Nasional coalition and the Pakatan Harapan coalition. I think that the Russians should be complaining and not us.

What else more do we want? Yes we want free and fair elections and we might or even might not achieve that in the upcoming 14th General Election but Malaysians as a whole should understand that in order to achieve all they want for now such as having a young candidate for Prime Minister, better policies, free and fair election as well as all their other needs is indeed a PROCESS. It does not come overnight.

Some may argue that the Federation of Malaya is already 60 years old and Malaysia is 54 years old, so we should already have all these changes. One should remember that only in 2008 that the United States elected their first African-American President in Barack Obama since the country gained independence from the British and celebrated the birth of the United States of America in 1776.

It took them almost 232 years and they had 43 other white presidents before Obama was finally elected. I am not suggesting that we should wait for 200 over years to make changes but change takes time. How are we going to make changes if we can’t even afford to commit to a simple of act of VOTING?

Many first time voters such as myself are even contemplating whether to vote or not in the upcoming elections. We as Malaysians should be fortunate enough that we didn’t go through a tough time to get out voting rights as both the men and women of Malaysia were granted equal voting rights regardless of race, religion or gender as we voted during the Federation’s first elections in 1955.

It seems that we are now taking the privilege of being able to vote for granted. We are blessed to have not gone through apartheid where coloured citizens in South Africa had no right to vote. Women in Malaysia too should generally be thankful because they were not barred from voting like in many countries.

Britain gave women an equal right to vote in 1928, the United States in 1920, France in 1944 and Switzerland 1971. These countries had a history of actually not allowing a women to vote while Malaysian women had the right to do so along with men. Even Saudi Arabia only granted the right for women to vote only in 2015.

With that said, I would like urge all Malaysians especially the young voters, to exercise their responsibility as a citizen of Malaysia in voting for the upcoming general election this year.

We should indeed use our right as well as our privilege to vote wisely without taking it for granted regardless of our political support and for those are voting for the first time just like me, EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT, GO AND VOTE!!!

* Aaron Denison is a research assistant with Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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