Voting for our future

Mustafa K. Anuar

The writer says while it is the right of Malaysians to vote or not to vote for the party of their choice, they must also be aware of the repercussions of their action. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 18, 2022.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

SHERATON Move, which triggered the collapse of the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government in 2020, understandably gave rise to disillusionment as well as political fatigue and apathy among ordinary Malaysians in recent years.

They rightly felt that their mandate for substantial change was abruptly robbed by those who executed the bloodless coup, which, in turn, prompted people to wonder whether their democratic right and electoral choice make sense anymore. 

Such a sense of voter resignation is aptly captured in the light-hearted description of those who refuse to vote: “Parti Aku Malas Undi” (PAMU, I Am Lazy To Vote Party).

In other words, there are Malaysians who are not inclined to participate in an electoral process again after feeling betrayed and also because “politics” in their eyes has become very dirty – one devoid of ethics, conscience, trust and integrity.

But then, politics is not the sole preserve of political parties and politicians, because we the ordinary people can also make some “political” choices of our own in our daily lives. 

To protest against, say, a price hike of chicken or to have the “Kita jaga kita” (we look after each other) initiatives to help those who raised the white flags in their homes seeking for help, is as political as it is people power.

In other words, such actions taken by ordinary people can make a difference to our lives, especially at a time when many of the government leaders were disconnected from the rest of the society.

Consciously choosing not to vote out of protest or disillusionment is also political as it, too, has political consequences, such as the possibility of making a political party or coalition not of your choice win by default.

To reiterate, while it is our right to vote or not to vote, at the same time we have to be aware of the repercussions of our action.

In the face of the many challenges our nation faces, such as soaring living cost, corruption, unemployment, bad governance, human rights violations, mounting national debt, problematic education system, increasing racism and divisive politics, it is therefore imperative that we make our preference for a better Malaysia known through the ballot box. 

At this historical juncture, it is crucial that the ordinary people reclaim ownership of their beloved land called Malaysia and help steer the country out of the political, economic and moral morass we are in.

Every effort should be made to embolden Malaysians to believe they have the political power to help push the country forward and at the same time drain the swamp via the ballot box. Sitting on your hands is no longer an option.

Malaysians should, in no uncertain terms, show the politicians – particularly the unscrupulous – that their intelligence and collective dignity can no longer be easily insulted. We have seen politicians lying through their teeth over the years. Enough is enough. 

The future of the country is for us Malaysians to collectively help shape, and voting for the right reason is one way to do it. 

The voice of the country’s stakeholders must be heard in this context, which is why, for example, the relentless efforts of Malaysian volunteers to bring the overseas ballot papers back to the polling stations in the country is commendable and noteworthy.

Similarly, the endeavour by the indefatigable graphic artist Fahmi Reza to raise political awareness about democracy among the young voters, particularly students, deserves an applause. This is especially so, given the obstacles placed against Fahmi’s efforts by certain universities that seem to think that liberating minds is not healthy nor is it their forte.

There are almost 1.4 million young voters aged between 18 and 20 as a result of Undi18.

These young people have the potential of making a marked difference to the electoral outcome, especially if they are well informed about party politics and their democratic rights.

This Saturday we owe it to ourselves and the future of Malaysia. Let’s do the right thing. – November 18, 2022.

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