The precious gain and the painful loss the rakyat took from the 14th GE

Posted on September 29, 2018

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many-colours-one-dreamrakyat-bangkit-selamatkan-malaysiaThis is a prelude to my post to share my thoughts on the PD by-election.

What was that most precious gain we took from the 14th GE?

As an ABU activist since 2011 until the day after the 14th GE, at first blush, the answer seems so plain.

UMNO / BN had been brought to its knees.

By ordinary folk.

After more than 40 years of UMNO / BN rule, after valiant efforts by so many in 3 general elections starting from the 12th GE in 2008, a seemingly unbeatable monster, that had long oppressed so many, and seized every institution of state, sparing none, to serve its own ends, was slain.

The seemingly un-doable, without violence or bloodshed, had been done.

By ordinary folk.

Coming together, each exercising a precious, constitutionally-given power to decide the fate and direction of this beloved nation.

One word repeatedly popped up in each of the 12th, 13th and 14th general elections.

Tsunami.

The tsunami that struck Malaya in 2008 saw 5 states fall to the opposition and, for the first time ever, deny that monster a 2/3 majority in parliament.

Two incidences, for me, subsequent to the 12th GE, summed up what, precisely, was at the heart of the tsunami that the nation had just witnessed.

In January, 2009, whilst I was in Kuala Terengganu to campaign in a by-election, speaking to Chinese in the town area, one voter made the following remark :

“Wah, kalau kita tahu tsunami sudah mari, Terengganu pun mesti sudah jatuh”.

Two years later, in December, 2011, when I was detained in Kota Kinabalu and informed that I had been refused entry and would be sent back, one of the immigration officers in attendance remarked to me privately :

“Kalau benar rakyat sudah bangkit, kami akan bersama rakyat”.

Information was at the heart of that tsunami of 2008, and the ones that followed in 2013 and 2018.

Information of what?

First, the real state of the nation, a growing awareness of the excesses of the ruling regime and its use of divisive politics to maintain a wedge between the people increasingly seen as a direct co-relation to the impoverished lives of so many.

The second, flowing from the first, that an uprising of the masses, was at hand.

In the time leading up to the 12th GE, UMNO / BN made the mistake of underestimating the power of social media, including the online alternative news portals like Malaysiakini, and its ability to break their long-held stranglehold on the flow of information to the voters.

By the 13th GE, UMNO / BN, too, had become social media-savvy.

Still, they could not stop information of the real state of the nation reaching far and wide.

What was missing was information of the second type.

That an uprising was going to confront the monster face to face.

That shortfall was overcome by leaps and bounds in the run up to the 14th GE.

What was different this time?

First, an unparalleled outreach by so many in civil society, putting their social media savyyness to national service. There were simply too many to single out any for special mention.

This, combined with the fact that many more rural folk, compared to previously, now have smartphones and actually subscribe to dataplans.

Second, an INVOKE outreach, targeting the right message to the right audiences.

Third, the Dr M juggernaut which toured the nation, which was generally well-received with enthusiasm, and which were always carried ‘live’ on social media.

A better informed people, having a clearer idea of the state of the nation, realising that change had become imperative for the survival of the nation, and, most importantly, daily, seeing evidence that an uprising of hitherto unseen proportions was growing, on 9th May, exercised that constitutional power as a collective force of one to defeat a tyrant.

Yes, removing UMNO / BN from Putrajaya on 9th May was priceless.

More precious, though, was the rakyat discovering the sheer power they have when, fully informed, they act as one.

This, in my view, was our most precious gain from the 14th GE.

We are now a changed people, aware of the sheer power we wield if we do not allow ourselves to be divided, and, when needed, to rise as one.

I apologise for being long-winded in coming to my conclusion on that most precious gain we took from the 14th GE.

I will be short on that painful loss we suffered.

In the 12th GE, a young man whose only claim to fame then was having video recorded a lawyer boasting of how he had senior judges in his pocket, offered himself as a candidate.

He contested in an urban seat.

And won.

Such was the mood of voters, who had access to the first set of information I spoke of earlier.

Voters were not interested in the calibre of the alternative to UMNO / BN.

What this meant was that as UMNO/ BN robbers and thieves were removed from parliament, those taking their place might have been honest people, but might not be the best to serve the nation.

Voters paid little or no attention to the quality of individuals they were voting in, as did the political parties who were offering these candidates.

Much of the same was seen in the 13th GE.

In the 14th GE, Pakatan Harapan came up with an ingenius decision.

All PH candidates would contest under the PKR logo.

For the voters, the choice become stark and straightforward.

bn pkr

One or the other.

Nothing else to choose.

To an extent, this averted confusion and would have contributed to UMNO / BN’s loss.

The fixation to remove UMNO / BN, and hence vote for the “eye”, regardless, came at a cost.

In my view, a heavy one.

dr-jeyakumar7

A man whose heart is for the people, and who has set the standard of MPship. A tough act to follow.

Dr Michael Jeyakumar, two-term MP of Sungai Siput, slayer of MIC’s Samy Vellu, who has served his constituents well and who, in my opinion, is the benchmark of what a member of parliament should be, stood on a Parti Sosialis Malaysia ticket and lost.

The “eye or dacing” option before the voters of Sungai Siput, however, saw, not an UMNO / BN incumbent removed, but a man who has faithfully served his constituents over two terms.

This, in my view, was the painful loss we suffered on 9th May.

This loss, heavy as it is, may not be in vain, if we can, as a people, mature enough in the years running up to the 15th GE to move away from the “eye or dacing” approach to electing representatives in parliament, to one of an objective evaluation of the choices before us.