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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I have come home to vote



The number may not reach biblical proportions, but Malaysians are flying in from all over the world, abstaining from the postal vote in order to dirty their itchy fingers with indelible ink and cast their ballots themselves on Sunday.

Around the world on April 28, exactly a year after Bersih 3.0, thousands queued to lodge their postal vote, the first time in the country’s history that people other than armed forces personnel, public servants, students and their spouses were entitled to cast their ballot abroad.

NONEMelbourne alone saw more than 1,000 registered voters, and the numbers were so unexpectedly overwhelming the overseas mission stayed open till 8pm.

Here in the country of my birth, Malaysians say these postal voters have no moral right to cast their ballot for GE13, because they don’t live here and will abscond from facing whatever may ensue after Sunday by the act of remaining in their adopted countries.

So I am guilty of returning from Sydney to vote, and the crime of wanting to make every ballot count.

Putting aside the truth that some of us may also want to finally enter Malaysian public service in the near future, it’s a disturbing thought that fellow citizens will impose limitations on how much a person should show he cares for his country.

This is a federal election. I am convinced a good number of Malaysians want change after 56 years, I know they face near insurmountable odds to bring this about, I feel the guilt of not having voted in 2008, and I am now here to add just one voice more.

pakatan ceramah shah alam 041211 nik azizI’ve seen Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat (left)give his blessings to Nurul Izzah Anwar, and the chant of ‘Allahu Akbar’ made this Christian clasp his hands together, moved by a spiritual symbiosis to pray with the Muslims surrounding me.

The BN actually began campaigning for this election five years and one frog season ago, after the mighty river of democratic expression swept across the nation, and a lot of dirty water has flowed since.

Standing for your constitutional right became a crime. Aunty Bersih was among hundreds of Malaysians who were brutally attacked for wanting clean and fair elections. Possession of yellow t-shirts became an offence, a minor was arrested along with the EO6 and brought before a court.

One young man died while in the custody of the corruption watchdog and the restricted substance C4 was used to ensure a young Mongolian woman stayed dead.

The country lost RM872 billion in illicit outflows between 2001 and 2010, and nearly RM200 billion was siphoned out in 2010 alone, placing Malaysia just behind China in global capital flight.

We still don’t have answers, and silence is contempt.

NONEThe Election Commission (EC) has raised the dead to vote on Sunday, thousands of new voters have registered in Lembah Pantai, where Raja Nong Chik is determined to win a symbolic victory by unseating Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, building his support drain by drain. 

There’s no way to tell how the citizenship giveaway in Sabah might add weight to the dacing.

And that’s just the tip in this Bukit Gasing of fraud, vote-buying and disenfranchisement as we head to the mother of all polls.

Two countries called ‘Malaysia’

The EC has trumpeted the so-called extension of the postal vote, after months of standing in contempt of Parliament. But after reversing from a willful refusal to meet its constitutional mandate, the fact remains nearly 700,000 potential voters from Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and south Thailand are still being denied their right to vote from abroad.

election flag 170413 bn 01They comprise voting blocs that could swing so many seats that our streets, trees, bushes, electricity poles, windows, walls and malls may never again be so blue (the divine irony remains that in a sea of blue, the other parties' flags catch the eye).

On the other hand, the commission will register you as a voter without your asking it to, as students from Colombo to London have found.

Mobile-phone network carriers are apparently doing their patriotic duty and handing over private customer details to the government. It allows the caretaker premier to take time off from his busy schedule to say ‘thanks for registering as a voter’ in a personalised text message. 

It can’t be easy for him because in this presidential-style BN campaign, it looks like he’s running in 222 seats.

NONEUmno must have undergone radical change because Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears to be running the party, but its head really looks like Najib Abdul Razak.

A mother is murdered before her daughter in the affluent heart of Petaling Jaya and the deputy director-general of Customs is shot dead in Putrajaya, but the crime rate is ‘falling’.

There are two countries called Malaysia and, in one of them, discrimination, racism, the suppression of religion, voter fraud, corruption and the most vile of murders do not occur.

It is an inescapable fact that this is another election that will be neither fair nor free. So, I have flown home to vote, to add that one extra voice to help people I don’t even know and dilute the extent of electoral fraud.

Whatever ensues on Sunday night, I will rest easy, and think of my three children in Sydney and know that my wife and I have set a certain example.

Whoever wins, Malaysia will have moved just one vote closer to a properly functioning two-party system in Parliament, an effective check-and-balance in what we hope will be a newly august Dewan Rakyat.

In this other Malaysia, I have come home to cast one more shadow over the elected representatives who must serve at our pleasure.

WILLIAM DE CRUZ is a Malaysian who resides with his Malaysian wife and three children in Sydney. He has returned to Kuala Lumpur to vote in GE13, and his wife will soon follow suit.

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