This is an expansion of some quick thoughts expressed on Facebook around 2.00 am this morning.
Sorry, but I can’t believe some of the “I’m done”, “That’s it, I’ve lost faith in Malaysia”, “No hope, no future” posts I’m seeing on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Are you seriously giving up just when Malaysia needs you most? Democracy doesn’t start and end with GE13.
And democracy is NOT just about voting in elections. There’s so, so much more that can be done every single day.
Malaysia needs all of us to keep fighting for the changes we want to see. Keep the government accountable. Fight corruption. Demand electoral reform. Be activists for whatever cause you are passionate about.
Perhaps people are reacting emotionally, but no one said democracy would be easy.
Malaysia has changed. We can see that in the way we express ourselves more confidently. We are slowly breaking free of the shackles of fear that used to weigh us down.
The amazingly high voter turnout shows that Malaysians care about what is going on in the government, and want a say in it. The long queues of people who came early at polling stations across the country speaks for itself. And despite what Barisan Nasional is trying to say, it is not a “Chinese tsunami” — for them to say that on election night shows that BN still has much to learn.
But we too have much to learn. Those who lament why Sarawakians continue to vote for BN — please, do you even know what the important issues are for Sarawakians? Don’t be so quick to pass judgment on the basis of a video you watched online, or a few articles you read. Think before shooting out condescending thoughts from your smartphones, which only serve to publicise your ignorance. People are complex. Politics is complex. Understanding the issues takes more effort.
So what now, Malaysia?
Instead of ranting about electoral fraud, threatening to migrate, petitioning the US (seriously?), or turning your profile photos black — if you really want to do something for your country, start now. Democracy is not just about elections, so you do not have to wait for GE14 (please repeat this sentence 5 times). Learn how to keep the government, our ADUNs, our MPs, accountable all the time.
Get to know more about the issues that affect people outside your immediate circle of friends. Get out of your comfort zone. When NGOs or other parties organise forums, talks, or gatherings — attend, support, participate. Forsake a few weekends at the mall. Watch less TV. There is time, you just have to prioritise.
Continue to demand free and fair elections. Malaysia needs electoral reform, badly. We cannot just rely on the same leaders and activists to do all the fighting for us. They get tired too.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change isn’t easy. So if you want it, what are you willing to do to get it? Don’t feel helpless. Don’t think there’s nothing you can do. There is SO MUCH you can do. The only question is whether you’re willing to do it, or not. If you don’t want it bad enough to make an effort, then please stop cluttering up my timeline with your disappointment.
We must keep moving in the right direction, and not be interested just once every 4/5 years.
To those who voted, thank you. To those who will be able to vote in GE14, please register now — it was so irritating to hear people complaining about not being able to vote even though they registered in February. What took you so long to register? Register earlier!
If you do not know where to start, if you do not think you’re enough of an “expert” in any issues to be an activist, change your mindset. Start with the issues that matter most to you. Crime. Education. Start with your community. Start with your friends. All of you are more than welcome to come to the LoyarBurok Rakyat Centre, write for LoyarBurok (we welcome anyone, writing about anything — find out how here), and join our UndiMsia! movers, attending an IdolaDemokrasi gameshop, train to lead an IdolaDemokrasi gameshop . It’s better than lepak-ing in shopping malls, I promise you.
I loved all the ceramahs I attended in the past week, standing in the drizzle and rain, shoulder to shoulder with fellow Malaysians who believe in change, who crave for change. I understand your disappointment. I feel your pain. I share your heartbreak. But please, do something. If you don’t, you only have yourselves to blame.
Democracy isn’t dead. This isn’t the end. It’s just a part of the journey.
Now we go back to our lives. But we should make these things a part of our lives anyways. Like us LoyarBurokkers say, “it’s a frickin’ lifestyle!”
So remember how you felt on Sunday morning. Remember how you felt in the wee hours of Monday morning. And now decide what you’re going to do about it. Jom!
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