By Maryam Lee
Pakatan Harapan is diverting the issue of their political complacency to those who support #UndiRosak.
Supporters of vote-spoiling in the 14th general election (GE14) are to be blamed if Barisan Nasional wins Putrajaya again, and they are to expect themselves to be the target of anti-BN anger until the next general election comes along.
Because not voting for Pakatan means voting for BN, right? Wrong.
The truth is, there are many bigger reasons why Pakatan may not win the votes to take over the federal government, and #UndiRosak is the least of their problems.
Some are so baffled as to why these youths would want to spoil their votes to “punish” Pakatan, but at the same time, would not vote for BN.
The answer as to why these youths would not vote for BN is because they know how much BN will not represent them. They are not ignorant of the problems that would be perpetuated by BN if they win again.
As to why do supporters of #UndiRosak hold Pakatan especially responsible in this election?
It is because Pakatan says they are different. They say they are not the same. Their entire campaign strategy so far seems to be “vote for us because we are not BN”.
This political complacency is why #UndiRosak deserves to be applauded for finally waking Pakatan up to face reality, people are not going to vote for you just because they are angry at someone else.
If anything, #UndiRosak has gotten through to youths who would not have examined manifestos and policies offered by both sides before.
I see comments and tweets from previously apolitical peers, who are often chastised for being apathetic towards politics, but who are now more interested to get involved.
Those who advocate for more youths to be registered to vote should be happy.
When people are naturally inclined to register as a voter out of their own journey or discovery or sense of duty, they are more likely to change the current toxic political culture.
With more than three million eligible youths still not registered to vote, it is our job to persuade them to register and cast an informed vote. That’s it. Our job ends there. Whatever they do with the vote is entirely up to them.
Not asking for perfect alternative
Instead, we still see a political climate of fearmongering coming from the self-proclaimed “alternative”, using the exact same scare-tactics as Umno telling the Malays they would be doomed if they didn’t vote for the party.
Mind you, the #UndiRosak supporters are not even asking for a perfect alternative. They are simply understandably disappointed in Pakatan for abandoning their principles just for the sake of winning GE14.
Patronising them by saying they are unintelligent folks waiting for a utopia is not helping you convince them that Pakatan is worth the vote.
What would get them the votes back is standing steadfast to the principles they once vouched so hard for.
On the principle of anti-racism alone they have failed miserably by welcoming PPBM into the coalition. As if that is not enough, they named PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad their candidate to be the prime minister in the lead up to GE14.
Pakatan also needs to stop relying on the “give them a chance” narrative. Apparently the solution to all systemic problems in this country is to get Pakatan into government first, we can discuss specific policies later.
Excuse me? Are you really asking the rakyat to just hand you free votes while you go back on every progressive principle you once stood for just because Mahathir is there to win your rural Malay votes?
Well then, if that is really how Pakatan thinks, I do not see why they need to be so angry at the non-rural voters for #UndiRosak, who do so on very legitimate reasons.
If you are so sure that Mahathir could win you this election, then stand by that decision. Why then is PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail telling us – not even asking us, but telling us – to accept Mahathir as PM-candidate? Of course the answer would be a “no”.
As politicians, selling your soul to the devil might be something you were willing to do to get access to power. But do not expect the same behaviour from everyday citizens who are to give you that mandate to govern.
Holding Pakatan accountable
#UndiRosak will continue for as long as Pakatan keeps being in denial that Mahathir was a very bad choice for PM-candidate.
As mentioned, I am holding Pakatan accountable for what they have done because they keep insisting that they are different, and they deserve so much of our mandate because of it.
However, by endorsing and championing a race-based party (PPBM) and giving them 52 federal seats to contest in GE14, they are essentially doing what Mahathir himself liked to say about others, “cakap tak serupa bikin”.
Pakatan really has bigger problems than #UndiRosak to sort out. People would not even be considering it if they really were a viable alternative.
It is more important for them to find out why the campaign took off the way that it did, because this is not a generation that follows either side blindly anymore.
For #UndiRosak to even become viral, it is a sign of a maturing democracy. The people realise that voting alone is not the only path to institutional reforms, but making politicians accountable to their own promises are.
That, to me, is a cause for celebration.
Maryam Lee is a social activist.
* The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.