Home TA Online An open letter to the people behind the #UndiRosak campaign

An open letter to the people behind the #UndiRosak campaign

Photograph: Benedict Lopez

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What you are doing is leaving the marketplace of choices and giving corrupt politicians and their goons free rein, writes Choo Sing Chye.

Malaysia has an electoral political system in which the direction of the politics is determined by ballots.

The government is formed not by a bloody contest in a battlefield but in a marketplace of choices wherey we count heads rather than chop them off. Thus, we should attach a high premium value on our votes, and it is silly just to spoil them.

To say the least, I am not inspired by your ‘#UndiRosak’ campaign. This campaign will lead you to tell the people not to vote for any politician across the board. You do not care whether the politician is corrupt or honest and competent – you just want the vote to be spoiled.

In fact, what you are doing is leaving the marketplace of choices and letting the corrupt politicians and their goons to do the bidding among themselves – the more undi rosak the better.

Frankly speaking, can your action of spoiling the vote makes the practitioners of divisive and hate politics go away? Certainly not. In fact it strengthens them.

Surely, this should not be the inspiration you wish to have or inculcate in our young, more so to influence them to embrace your unthinking campaign.

If you planned this campaign for the voters in the hope that a certain party could win, then it is nasty of you. But if you did it just to tell politicians off, then it is not a very clever endeavour.

As future leaders, you should not lose your intellectual ability to articulate the problems of the people eloquently to our potential leaders and to our voters, especially the young.

You should be resolutely inspired by idealism in politics and be able to peel away the layers of deceptions, which seem to permeate every nook and cranny of our society during election time. Walking away from this responsibility is unwise.

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Allow me to recount my experience in Canada just to give you an idea of a good government.

As a young student in Canada, I was inspired, yes, very much inspired by the near-free hard right-wing politics and a corruption-free government. This is all because Canadian voters are well informed and they are assertive in their choice of voting in honest and competent politicians to run the country.

The province of Manitoba was governed by the left-of-centre NDP (New Democratic Party) similar to the Liberal Party in Great Britain, which dabbles itself with what politicians call community politics or ‘Lee Lam Thye politics’ as we used to call it in Malaysia.

The impact of their soft-left policies had a tremendous effect on me. I was able to graduate from Brandon University because the NDP provincial government was able to put a cap on rising university fees while in the rest of Canada, the fees soared by 100-700%.

As a corruption-free provincial government, it was able to subsidise a huge part of the fee. NDP was able to do this because education is controlled by the provincial government and not the Federal government as we have in Malaysia. My whole three-year degree cost me C$2,400 (RM4,200).

I am truly grateful to the NDP Manitoba provincial government. If not for their soft-left policies, I would have to return home without a degree.

Another huge impact of these policies was on the new arrivals in Canada, the Vietnamese refugees.

In the second semester of my first year in university, I was invited by Dinh Lam, a Vietnamese refugee, to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family.

On arriving there, I realised that he was renting a small basement room. It was small and sparsely filled with old and worn out furniture, but tidy. Dinh Lam was apologetic about the condition of his room – and I told him not to feel that way.

His ordeal began in the mid-1970s, when discriminatory racial and hate politics of Communist Vietnam grew so intolerable that his family decided that he and his two sisters should take the risk of leaving the country.

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When they left Vietnam, he was only 17, his eldest sister, 21, and his younger sister, 10.

They were all crammed into a fishing trawler boat with 40 other refugees. About a week at sea, the boat hit shore on a small island off Indonesia. The moment they set foot on the island, the village chief and his men immediately took all his family heirloom jewellery and a few hundred US dollars they were carrying. He and his two sisters were left with nothing except for the clothes they are wearing.

Luck and timing was on their side when Canada’s left-of-centre Liberal Party government of the late Pierre Trudeau announced that the country was taking in 40,000 refugees. Dinh Lam and his two sisters were extremely lucky to be on the list.

In Canada, they were welcomed by the Maronites. The Maronites gave them food and warm clothing and a place to stay until they were able to fend for themselves.

A few months later, he found employment as a factory worker, assembling telephones, His eldest sister found a job as a restaurant worker. Both were paid a minimum wage of $6 an hour. His younger sister got a place in a Canadian public school.

With the deep recession blowing across Canada, the telephone factory was not spared. The factory management had no choice but to reduce working days from five days to three so that they could keep all its employees and the factory afloat.

The Canadian government stepped in and paid for the remaining two days. In doing so, the factory was able to weather the recession, and employees like Dinh Lam could stay on with full pay.

In my final year in Canada, Dinh Lam again invited me to his house to spend probably the last Chinese New Year with them. This time sround, I was surprised that they were staying in a large detached house. The furniture inside was of high quality – similar to what we can find in an upper-middle class home in Malaysia.

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Curiously, I asked him how much the rental was?

“No, I bought the house,” he replied. He quickly ushered me to the back of the house, and showed me a speed boat and declared proudly, “I bought this too”.

That summer, we went cruising in his speed boat, and I must admit, it was the most exciting time of my life.

It is inspiring to note that in less than three years, they were able to achieve their dreams. As for me, after coming back from Canada for more than three decades, I, like many other Malaysians, have been unable to achieve half of my dreams.

My choice is clear – I vote Harapan.

Gifts and items sent to the prime minister and his family

Many Canadians choose to offer gifts to the Prime Minister and his family. These are kind and generous gestures. However, the Trudeau family believes that this goodwill would be better directed towards community, charity and family.

Additionally, security regulations and the Federal Accountability Act passed in 2006 prevent and preclude the prime minister and his family from accepting many gifts. All monetary gifts and gift certificates will be returned to the sender. Some items, such as perishable goods, cannot be accepted for security reasons. Other items may be severely damaged due to security screening processes. We would be very disappointed to learn that any item of personal value was damaged as a result of these measures and ask that you refrain from sending these valuables.

Finally, we would ask that you consider the impact your efforts could have for those in need across Canada. The prime minister, Sophie, Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien would be heartened to know that you are focusing your generosity as a volunteer or benefactor of a dedicated charitable organisation.

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