Open Letter to Najib Razak

Dear Mr Najib Razak,

I know you must be tired. Tired of all the politicking that has been taking place in our country. So at the outset, I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart, that you have been the worst politician I have personally met, with Ibrahim Ali being a close second.

I am just legal enough to vote, so perhaps I haven’t seen enough, but trust me when I say that I was very ashamed of you when I studied abroad. Friends from Western Europe and North America were telling me that they saw you on YouTube, mocking the injured, those who marched, those who cared, and then pretending to care with diplomatic words laced with condescension on their international news channels. Malu, bukan?


Almost two years ago, I wrote Negara kita, because the Malaysian in me was awakened by the spirit of 50,000 people who rallied on the 9th of July 2011 for me, for you, for Malaysia.

I remember crying when my former university lecturer, Wong Chin Huat led the crowd to sing our national anthem. I wept for all the people around Merdeka Stadium because we, Malaysians, were treated like preys to predators for wanting free and fair elections. The ‘predators’ were also Malaysians. They are us; we are them.

The following Bersih rally on the 28th of April 2012, I marched from KLCC to Merdeka Square with my heart filled with fear; I feared for my country.

Middle class youth with dreams | Photograph by author

I remember everyone watching each other’s back, and having brief conversations with familiar faces alongside a brave friend who marched with me, Tan May Ling, next to the barricades that separated the quarter-million of demonstrators and the trucks full of Malaysia’s police officers and FRUs. Again, they are us; we are them.

How and when did Malaysia become a dog-eat-dog world? Have I been naïve enough to think I was not growing up in one? Why did you mock us – the injured, those who marched, those who cared? Why don’t you take a hit of that ‘sikit’ tear gas and see if you lari lintang pukang like I did? Where were you and what were you doing?

Until today, the Election Commission has yet to meet the demands of Bersih that are critical towards a functioning, participatory democracy.

A functioning, participatory democracy is not about overthrowing the ruling government, nor is it about blindly supporting a party that challenges it. It is about us, Malaysians, engaging ourselves in our country’s current affairs, and being able to participate in the decision-making process based on our own visions and missions. Each and every one of us is a stakeholder. Thus, it is our right and responsibility to decide who represents us best, because your portfolio says that you have been biting more than you can chew.

This election is not about fulfilling promises, bringing hope, and upholding trustworthiness per se. It should be about all governments listening to the rakyat’s voices. Every one of us has a voice. One of my favourite political activists, Arundhati Roy said that, “…there are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” I appeal to you to watch, listen, and think carefully before deciding on delivering the next load of gunny bags of free rice to my grandparents’ constituency.

As a young Malaysian, I am personally indignant at many of the things you and your cronies have and have not done. At the top of the list would be:

(1)  the fact that you did not welcome Bersih

(2)  your petrifying control over Malaysian media

(3)  the death of Teoh Beng Hock

(4)  your denial of the need for women’s rights groups in Malaysia

(5)  propagating our education system

(6)  plotting trails of breadcrumbs leading to a bottomless well of debt – I thought you majored in Economics, hello?

(7)  discriminating LGBTiQ and immaturely delegating issues featuring it, and

(8)  offering homes of Malaysians to developers for FDIs.

So yes, I have beef with you, sir. Here are the top eight problems which vex me to the bones. For a second, I thought I’d throw “your wife” in there too, but these outweigh her by far. These problems require a hundred-fold of the urgency compared to your choice in spouse, so I will have to let Rosmah slide.

In the 2008 12th general election, 51.5% of us elected you to helm our beloved country. I cannot say that I was not disappointed, but I was barely legal then and did not have the opportunity to vote yet. Come May 5th, I will join some 2.3 million other first-time voters (21.69% of the 13.29 million registered voters) and I will not vote for you. My vote should be a vote for Malaysia – a Malaysia that is neither afraid of challenges nor change, a Malaysia that is accepting and loving, a Malaysia that is developed and progressive socially, economically, and politically, a Malaysia where people of all colours and creeds can live in consonance. A Malaysia where every one of us will be truly proud to live as ourselves.

My very dear friend, Erik M Gan, urged Malaysia’s next generation to “choose compassion over injustice, knowledge over nonchalance, but perhaps most of all, choose dignity over fear.”

Yes, sir, my generation has grown up, and we will do the right thing.


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Michelle Chan is a struggling journ/anthrop student who is passionate about struggles, writing, people, and learning. twitter flickr vimeo

Posted on 3 May 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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