By Hafidz Baharom
I’ve been biting my fingers for a while now to stop from writing an open letter, but this takes the cake.
It wasn’t enough that Bersih had a steering committee member repeating the erroneous accusation that we are somehow a Barisan Nasional (BN) sleeper cell – now, even the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) comes out to say our actions favour the government.
So let me shed some light on the matter at hand – many of us in #UndiRosak will never vote for the government. But we will also not vote for an opposition over the flimsy excuse of being “better than BN”.
As such, instead of having Bersih and even the IRF going on a fear mongering quest to scare the public over fewer than than 20 loud people on Twitter and Facebook, maybe the opposition should just read through our politely worded requests.
There are quite a few, from ensuring that housewives get a basic income to perhaps even electoral reform.
For myself, I am not going to give Pakatan Harapan my vote without a large list in its manifesto. It’s not an irrational request, especially since I can’t take them to court if they fail – manifestos are not legally binding.
The first part is electoral reforms. Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah wrote a brilliant letter discussing different electoral systems as well as the “none of the above” (NOTA) vote that the opposition should consider for its manifesto, but I would like to add two more requests in the name of democracy.
First, if any constituency has more than 60% NOTA votes, the seat will remain void until a special election is called within 60 days with different candidates. It is a clear sign that the people of a certain seat don’t like either candidate, thus it is up to the political parties to try again with newer people.
Secondly, any seat in the state assembly or Parliament can be subject to a recall election. Farouk Musa of the IRF believes we should give Pakatan Harapan five years to get its act together. I believe Malaysians should not have to wait five years for any parliament member or state assemblyman to be held accountable for stupid remarks or actions.
Thus, if any constituent tells the Electoral Commission (EC) that they wish to petition for a recall election, they have 90 days to collect the signatures of 51% of the constituents. If they meet the EC’s scrutiny, the seat is declared void and a recall election is called within 60 days of the announcement.
No more Langkah Kajang’s, no more waiting five years to change the leadership and elected representatives. After all, lawyers love to say “justice delayed is justice denied”, and we believe democracy delayed is democracy denied.
The spoiled votes campaign is pretty much a motley crew of random people who just want politics to represent them rather than be a continuous lambasting session against the other side. We want a campaign that provides clarity, to have change explained down to the nitty gritty details and not to be treated simply as kids with just a “do as I say” attitude.
After all, wasn’t it Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin himself who said “Malaysians aren’t stupid” before he was shunned by Umno?
So no, Pakatan Harapan, we are not stupid, we are not “otak rosak”, we will not be swayed by emotional arguments, nor will we be swayed by something being the lesser of two evils. Give us clarity, give us policies, give us a timeline for your implementation of change, and maybe, just maybe, we will give you our votes.
That decision is purely in your hands. Are we being stubborn? Are we being irrational? Are we being selfish?
Perhaps, but this is politics.
And in our democracy as it is, you either list out what we have requested or we will spoil our votes. You may still win the general election, or you may lose it, that’s entirely dependant on whether you can convince the other voters.
Welcome to mature politicking.
We will not be cowed simply because you got Bersih and the IRF to speak on your behalf. In fact, I’d personally push that you include whatever demands Bersih wants to be added into your manifesto as well.
And with this, I will now shut up in the press and wait till your manifesto is released next week.
Hafidz Baharom is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.