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We cannot afford to give up

May 18, 2013

FMT LETTER: From Chong Wu Ling, via e-mail

At around 1am on May 6 when news of  the success of BN in gaining more than half of the parliamentary seats was released, many Malaysian voters, including myself, were shocked. Some could not help crying. To us, this was a cruel fact. We are already fed up with the corruption and racist policies in BN and hoped to see regime change. Hence, the slogan “Ini Kalilah, Ubah!” Pakatan Rakyat had put in a lot of effort to come out with effective campaign strategies. Besides that, numerous Malaysians residing abroad had registered as overseas voters or came back to Malaysia just to cast their votes. Many voters, including PR leaders were quite confident of toppling the BN regime.

PR gained about 51.78% of the popular votes. Unfortunately, the opposition alliance only managed to win 89 parliamentary seats due to gerrymandering and thus could not replace the BN regime. It is indeed difficult for voters who have longed for regime change to accept such an election result. Although PR leaders are currently collecting information on electoral fraud to bring it to court, many voters see no chance of success since our judiciary is controlled by the BN regime. PR leaders organised Black Rallies to protest against electoral fraud, but for some, those rallies are only meant to be a way for them to vent their anger and cannot make any changes to the election result. The ruling regime is not going to review the election result or electoral system just because many people turn up in the rallies.

Many Malaysians therefore feel disheartened. They do not want to wait for another five years. They are doubtful whether PR will be able to topple the BN regime in the next election as they believe there will be more electoral fraud then. Some Malaysians have begun to plan to migrate.

Nevertheless, I believe few Malaysians can afford to migrate. Most do not have other places except Malaysia to call home. Therefore, I strongly believe that we cannot afford to give up if we still consider Malaysia as our home. We cannot afford to give up if we still love our motherland. The BN regime does not represent Malaysia. So, we do not have to give up and leave the country just because we are upset with the regime.

Do not think that because we are just ordinary citizens, we do not have much power and cannot contribute to social and political reforms. In fact, there are many things that we can do. For instance, if we are unhappy that PR leaders have not come out with solutions that are more effective than taking the case of electoral fraud to court and organising Black Rallies, we can pressure them by all means to figure out more effective strategies.

We should also urge Bersih to push for reforms in overseas and postal voting. As postal voting could be easily open to fraud, it should be abolished. Instead of mailing back to Malaysia, all overseas votes should be counted and canvassed in the overseas polling station itself. The vote-canvassing and counting process should be monitored by polling agents of all political parties involved.

We can also actively participate in social movement activities, such as encouraging and assisting people to register as voters, helping to organise forums or workshops on civil education that aim to promote political and civil consciousness in our society, serving in rural areas and so on.

Furthermore, we can take the initiative to attend the training of PACABA (polling agent, counting agent and barung agent) organised by political parties and NGOs. We should offer ourselves to be PACABAs for the next election if it is possible because electoral fraud could be minimised if there are more PACABAs.

According to sociologist Anthony Giddens’s structure-agency theory, although human action is constrained by social structure, at the same time it also influences and brings changes to social structure. In the view of Giddens, our social environment might constrain but does not determine our actions. Hence, in facing the political environment and electoral system that are plagued with injustice and fraud, we can choose to give up or try our very best to make changes. I believe our action will bring some influence and even changes to our country.

History has shown us that no corrupt regime can last forever. It is just a matter of time we see the collapse of a corrupt regime. As long as we do not give up and actively participate in social movement, there will be hope for changes in Malaysia.


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