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GE13 outcome: All is not lost; we soldier on

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The choices you make today will determine a future. The future might not be tomorrow, or the next ten years. But don’t give up on Malaysia, says Shazwan Mustafa Kamal.

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Hey peeps, tonight wasn’t all bad. Although the results weren’t what many people expected, a lot of other things took place.

Yes, BN won but by a simple, majority. Yes, PR lost Kedah but that should serve as a reminder to certain PR parties not to be complacent. PR increased its presence in many other state seats. BN virtually has no two-thirds majority in any state seat in the Peninsular. That IS something.

Let’s not forget the waves and droves of people who came out to exercise their right to vote. GE come and gone, the awareness is there. Long gone are the days where people just talked about politics with apathy (although now suddenly everyone is a pseudo-expert on national politics).

Change, demands for better governance. Its never an easy road. It’s an on-going process. We lick our battle scars, wounds. Soldier on.

This GE has taught BOTH BN and PR that they can never take our votes for granted. Three ministers have been axed from Parliament. The PM’s face said it all during the victory speech. There was no chest-thumping, rather a meek-looking, more cautious PM. He’s also got some soul-searching to do, as he looks around and notices his army of generals growing smaller and smaller.

But having said that, I would like people to ponder on a few things:

1. I am happy that people were vigilant and acted against any signs of dubious voting. But it is also disheartening seeing the treatment of some foreigners and even Malaysians just because they fit the profile of “people to look out for”. One of Malaysia’s main concerns has been racism and how its affected ethnic relations for decades. So let’s not repeat this vicious cycle. We learn from our mistakes.

2. While I am saddened that truly deserving Umno progressives like Saifuddin Abdullah and Dzulkefly Ahmad did not win this time around, I am EXTREMELY happy that the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin, Puad Zarkashi and Ali Rustam will not sit in the august house of the Dewan Rakyat. The last thing we need are those who promote hate, vitriol, oppression and misunderstanding towards religious, ethnic and sexual minorities.

3. We can be happy that there is some light at the end of the never-ending tunnel – we now have people like Rafizi Ramli, Tony Pua, Ong Kian Ming, Nurul Izzah Anwar and to an extent Khairy Jamaluddin in Parliament. Young leaders who understand the needs and demands of a growing generation and can offer viable alternative discourses to some prehistoric politicians who unfortunately have been re-elected.

4. This election has brought out a host of questions regarding the current Election Commission’s ability to ensure a clean and fair electoral process. I think the upper echelons of the EC need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they did conduct themselves as professionally as they claim to have done. And above all, ANSWER and ADDRESS all the allegations of voter fraud and irregularities with PROOF, not just DENIALS.

5. Both coalitions need to be cognisant of the make-up of the current Parliament: Umno virtually dominates BN while its component parties have all but been eviscerated. The DAP has delivered in almost all its seats contested. While PKR has done okay Pas has suffered a bit.

Looking at the new line-up, will we see a Parliament which will strive to debate on policies and issues, or will both coalitions be divided along ethnic lines? Umno-BN will most certainly once again claim the moral high ground for the Malay community. How will they strike a balance? That’s for the PM to figure out.

6. Vote swings. While the non-Malay-Muslim votes went to PR, Malay votes were not so easy to ascertain. Have they gone to Umno? If so, why? These are questions which will dominate politics in Malaysia for the next few weeks, if not months.

7. I have friends who say that they have given up on Malaysia. And that the results of this election is the reason why they want to migrate to another country. And I have also some friends (though very few) who chose not to vote this time around. To them I say this, with love: Despite all the complaints about voter irregularities, despite the hurdles and uselessness you think this GE was: IT WASN’T. EVERY VOTE counted. YOUR VOTE could have counted.

If everyone decided to stay at home and not vote, what would have happened to those seats with very low winning margins? Democracy is not a perfect system of governance, especially Malaysia’s understanding of it. But it still can work in favour of Malaysians. People have died for the right to vote; so why should you throw yours away? Malaysia needs you, all of us, now more than ever.

UBAH isn’t just about fulfilling the dreams of a group of politicians. In a participatory democracy, we need to be ACTIVE, not PASSIVE players. Our aim should be towards a deliberative democracy, where every social actor has a RIGHT to take part in the national discourse, and not just allow the government of the day to set its terms and conditions for us.

Remember today. For hope that all is not lost. That the choices you make today will determine a future. The future might not be tomorrow, or the next ten years. But don’t give up on Malaysia, because dammit she needs us now, more than ever. Okay, I am done with membebel. Good night people. Apologies for the extremely long post. I’m usually quick and to-the-point.

Shazwan Mustafa Kamal is doing his masters in political science, cultural studies and the media. He previously worked as an online journalist.

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