The best election ever

APRIL 11 — Twitter was, as expected, on fire once the general election date was announced. At first it was mostly people upset at the inconvenient choice of a weekday. But then, things got interesting.

People who’d previously championed undi rosak (spoiling votes) or abstaining entirely were declaring they would turn up after all.

Fencesitters who would usually be sleeping in instead of waking up to go to the polls were saying they would be voting too.

Then people started asking if anyone wanted to carpool. Others chimed in, saying they would help donate to anyone who needed funds to go back to their hometown. Twitter can be a cesspool of trolls and petty arguments, but it can also prove a great place to rally others for a cause.

My sister won’t be voting — she moved to the US last year and voting rules insists she needs to come back to Malaysia first, stay for at least a month and then only be eligible for postal voting. The mind boggles.

I’m currently weighing my options — if it’s possible, I will but that will depend on a few factors I would rather not disclose here. It is great, though, that many Malaysians are trying to help other Malaysians make it home for the vote.

The thing about the Malaysian political scene is that it has been slow to mature. Same old parties, same old faces, same old tactics, same old drama ad nauseum. Having witnessed the frog election of Sabah, been in university during the height of the Reformasi movement, Malaysian elections have never been boring but they have always been fraught.

Always the same old spectres are brought up and it’s not surprising, really, that so many Malaysians are apathetic about politics. “Aiya, why botherlah, nothing ever changes.”

That’s the thing about change. Voters tend to be overidealistic in this country, forgetting that election promises are just that — promises. Sugared words from various sides to entice voters.

Delivering on said promises is not a sure thing, nor an instant thing.

People often vote for themselves but the reality about change and advocacy is that you need to remember, always — the change you fight for might not be realised in your lifetime. Most people don’t want that — they want massive reforms overnight and get disappointed when promises don’t translate into instant realities.

Whoever you wish to vote for, for whatever reason, understand that voting is just the beginning.

Once you give your candidate a vote and if that candidate wins, you have a personal stake. You can say, with impunity, “I voted for this person. I expected better.”

It’s not like betting on a racehorse, throwing your money once and that’s it. Voting is a ride that lasts a lot longer, with consequences that sometimes you don’t truly understand until two terms have passed.

If you can vote, do. It is a power that Malaysians take for granted, a power that many people have fought for and been denied. Think of all the people who care enough to help others get home to vote and maybe, waking up a little earlier to drive to that polling centre might not seem like such a hard thing to do after all. See you at the ballot box.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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