MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, May 31, 2012

GE13: Questions for first-timers, fence-sitters, the non-partisan — Chien Aun Koh


With the end of Bersih 3.0 rallies and the continue escalation of party politics for the looming GE13, the question I ask myself is what do we do next as citizens?
Attending the Bersih rally in KL was a no-brainer for me; despite claims of sabotage and political hijacking by various groups, its demands for clean and fair elections were something that I believe Malaysia deserves regardless of where we stood individually in terms of national policy, ethnicity or religion. All that was required of me for Bersih was to turn up and sit in the scorching sun for a few hours with the possible forecast of tear gas and chemical-laced water.
Voting however seems to be an entirely different ball game — one which seems to be utterly mired with the usual mud-slinging politicking and gutter politics that predictably feature in every election year. Personally identifying myself as non-partisan, this has led to a number of questions I’ve asked and tried to answer below:
Should I vote?
As mention above, Malaysians politics can be very dirty and more than once I’ve heard the remark “No one deserves my vote!” or “We’re really choosing the lesser of two evils,” from friends when asked who they would vote for. To an extent I agree that the quality of some of the candidates fielded are not always from the best nor the brightest of the lot (just listen to some of the comments our politicians make).
However, I’ve come to the conclusion that not to vote or to stage a protest by abstaining from voting as a form of protest at the shocking calibre of our candidates is really just as much a waste of that one vote if not more — during the last GE that translated into more than three million wasted votes, not counting spoiled ones.
By not voting in the end, I potentially stand to have a representative in Parliament whom I share no common interest with or detest utterly, regardless of my reasons for not voting. I can complain all I want but the die has been cast. Thus, I will vote. Which leads to the next question...
Who for or how should I vote?
I’ve noticed that there are generally two ways of voting, the first and more common method being along party lines regardless of the candidate; “do I go for the dacing, rocket or etc?” Barring those who are already partisan, an option would be to gravitate towards the party that best represents our interest. For others, there has also been talk of a two-party system in which we should currently vote in more opposition candidates in order to reduce BN’s overwhelming majority. This is done to ensure that there is a check and balance in Parliament in order to deny any one party a large majority, thus, guaranteeing that amendments and motions are properly debated and thought through before being made law.  This hopefully would lead to better governance overall in the country though I’m wary about how current political parties generally enforce strict party obedience when it comes to such decisions in Parliament.
The second method of voting would thus be according to the candidates fielded in the constituencies. Here, at risk of stating the obvious, voters would vote for the candidate who they most like or find as eligible to represent their constituent. In theory if we all choose capable MPs regardless of their party, we ensure that there will be always people of integrity in our Parliament even when one coalition has a majority. It will however take awhile before this will be a reality but it has to start somewhere.
I personally believe that if we are to be voters we should thus strive to go beyond making the GE a popularity contest of personalities and afford the role to those who deserve it or have the capabilities to look after our interests. Regardless of which method I use in deciding, it does require some amount of “homework” on my part; to know what the candidates/parties stand for. This is why I believe that Bersih was in some ways an easier choice to make, but we owe it to ourselves, our loved ones and others we share this country with to vote responsibly as the consequences are far reaching. 
Is there anything else I can do?
Which brings me back to why I’m writing this: tell and encourage others to vote. It is really important that we exercise this right. Many complain about the stifling of our freedom to speak but yet many still do not vote nor think carefully about their vote. If you’re still not convinced at least be a PACA for a constituency and ensure the right of others for a fair election. For all the bluster by the EC, I’ve yet to be convinced that they can be fully trusted. Why doesn’t our EC educate voters on how to vote through ads in our media instead of coming out with booklets defending our current electoral role? By being a PACA you can be another mechanism to ensure a fairer election.
P.S. Please share this with anyone who you think might benefit from this.

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