Malaysians want to see the country taking a turn for the better after the 13th general election, although some feel it will be the same old story.
If you’re going to ask any Malaysian this question, “What are your hopes for the government post- general election”, you’d better get ready for an onslaught of opinions, emotions and cynicism – not necessarily in that order.
In the case of Manaf Abdul Samad, it was just cynicism when he opined, “It doesn’t matter who wins, because all of them are the same. You ask me what my hopes are? I can’t even bring myself to say it because right now, it would sound funny because it’s all wishful thinking. Yes sure I’ll vote, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ll get to see what I hope for in my lifetime.”
Coaxed out of his reluctance with the promise of another hot Nescafe into sharing his thoughts, the 62-year-old Manaf gives in.
“The biggest mistake Barisan National made is to have underestimated Malaysians, using all kinds of scare tactics to make us feel that there will be chaos should a new government come into power. We are not stupid. Many of my peers agree that we allowed the government to do what it has because we trusted them and we gave them due respect.
“Many people are terkejut [shocked] when they hear that we are speaking up. My friends abroad are surprised and say that they never thought we had it in us. My reply to this is always the same – we have always had it in us, but we have been patient for too long. The fight was always there and the government shouldn’t have thought lowly of its people. So if you ask me what are my hopes for the new government, I would say that it should recognise that we are smart and that we should be treated fairly and not be taken for fools who will not fight back,” he said.
There are, however, Malaysians like Hameed Hamzah, a 50-something business owner, who feels that one party will do better than the other. He speaks passionately about a Pakatan Rakyat government which will bring a new dawn in Putrajaya, convinced that there will be an abundance of honesty, transparency and accountability – the holy trinity of what good governance should be all about.
Hameed is asked if he is being overly positive. He is also made aware that when a government is overthrown in what is considered a democracy, it becomes quite difficult to ensure the utopic government he has in mind. Hameed rubbishes the notion and is steadfast in his belief that a holistic change is possible.
“My hope for the government after the 13th general election is that we would once and for all be rid of corruption in all its forms. It has become an institution of sorts just like nepotism has. Yes, I am aware that the party I support has had its fair share of money politics and shady deals. But things are changing, you know There is more integrity now. I am not asking for a miracle from the elected government, but only that they take the time to really listen to what we want and carry it out,” he said.
Lina Teng, a 39-year-old medical practitioner, says it’s hard for her to have any thoughts about what she hopes for, post-general election, because her mind keeps panning to possible riots – of the racial kind.
Having grown up listening to her parents speak about the racial riots of May 13th 1969, Lina is already planning for what she feels is the inevitable.
“If you asked me what my hopes are, I would tell you that I want a peaceful government, one that prides itself on keeping its people safe. There are times when I have felt like the government, or the prime minister to be specific, is holding all of us at ransom. I say this because I feel like they want to win at all and any cost,” she said.
Concerns over a racial riot seem to be the most worrying thought prevalent in the minds of a number of people interviewed. Lina says even with a well-paying job, a home of her own and a pantry filled to the brim with groceries – “just in case something happens” – she still feels unsettled that the past will repeat itself when this thought comes to mind.
“There was an incident when a ‘leader’ of a certain political party raised the keris and screamed for blood all in the name of protecting a particular political party that championed a particular race. If this wasn’t bad enough, along came another individual who was so brazen in proclaiming that a bloodbath would happen to keep BN in power… So I’m sure you can appreciate why I have little hope, or even dare think about what I can hope for,” she stated.
Add to this numerous other incidents that will make for a hotbed of scandal, shock and secrecy. There were episodes worthy of horror stories – dismembered cow’s heads, blood-spilling gore and pig’s ears, saucy sex tapes, religious conversion claims and, let us not forget, the mysterious deaths of those in police custody or under interrogation. Home-grown talent Yandaro Al Amien (picture above, right), 33, an entrepreneur said the biggest travesty of justice is the government denying basic electoral reform rights to the same people who elected them into power.
“My hopes and what I want from the government after the general election is a long list. I am so sick and tired of seeing both parties play the blame game – it’s enough and the time has come to focus on direction rather than who has the bigger ego,” he said.
“Our education system is also in shambles – it’s another hot mess and we are lagging far behind in terms of quality and result. Have you seen the kind of fresh graduates we get? It’s frightening because they can’t even string a proper sentence in English and common sense is non-existent.
“I want a government that will cut out all this crap about Ketuanan Melayu [Malay supremacy]… it’s this kind of talk that makes the Malays fall back behind in the first place. I want a government that gives more access to press freedom and also one that is transparent. On a personal level, I would really like to see history lessons at schools taught based on facts and truth, not on government agenda,” he said, adding, “So be it if Hang Tuah was a Chinese. What’s the big deal?”
Earnest Bat, 33, (picture left), head of communication of a private company, has a tongue-in-cheek wish for what he hopes to see in a new government and states it simply enough: “I hope for a government that is run by smarter and more savvy people who do not take offence to tights and tutus, using these innocent garments as cause for political debate. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?”
But perhaps the most poignant of all hopes expressed comes from a fellow writer who said that her hope, post-13th general election, is for Malaysia to be given a real opportunity to explore its potential and reach it – that Malaysians abroad will return home because the country is finally a nurturing ground for home-grown talent.
The winds of change might just bring this about and who knows, Manaf might see it happening in his lifetime after all.