The indication of Tanjung Piai

After a gruelling three weeks or so of battling in the Tanjung Piai by-elections, finally we are back to our day-to-day works again. It was a devastating results for Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, only managing to obtain only 1,707 votes from the Tanjung Piai voters. Nevertheless there was much lesson to experience from this by-election and learn about the current political scenario of Malaysia.

Based on the results of Tanjung Piai, we can see that the Malaysian political system, political style will remain for quite some time.

The way politics were conducted by political parties will still be the same especially in times of elections. Identity politics will still be used, particularly in terms of ethnicity when it comes to campaigning for votes. It seems that there are certain community that feels that Muslims are to be protected with special privileges. It is still as though that only a person with the same ethnicity will only protect one of their own. Why haven’t we really thought that even Malays can protect Chinese and Indians; or Chinese can also protect the Malay and Indians? Or why don’t we have that mindset that whoever is elected, is a Malaysian, and to entrust his or her ability to protect every Malaysian?

During the by-election campaign, we still notice Ministers, Deputy Ministers and government officials “turun padang” to the constituency to make announcements of development projects be it major or minor. Re-tarring roads are so common that it is a “must-thing” to do in every elections. Despite that, we surely welcome such developments, but why now? Why does it only happens during by-elections? Do we only need by-elections to happen so that the respective constituencies to be given attention? What has the elected representatives been doing?

Negative politics, criticism, and attacking is such a norm in elections that it is as though people vote based on who is the lesser devil. We are focusing so less on who can deliver better progress, who have the better capability to represent the people.

As far as I have read about politics about 20 years ago, politics were played that way back then, and it is still now.

The Tanjung Piai by-election results is also giving a clear indication that a third force, independent party or independent candidate will not strive in Malaysian politics for quite some time. The total number of votes combined among the independent parties and candidates, couldn’t even secure the deposit.

The battle within the two major coalition, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan will continue until Malaysian voters can accept the rise of a third force, but when?

Based on the campaign and response from the voters of Tanjung Piai, building a third force that really matters in Malaysia will require a huge effort and political education among the public.

It makes us ponder, how does the Tanjung Piai voters voted in this by-election? Are they voting because Barisan Nasional can bring them development? Or are they voting because they are angry towards the rule of Pakatan Harapan? Did any of them ponder if there is an alternative choice that can voice out for them?

I think we still have a long way to go to achieve an effective and matured democractic country.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 19th November 2019.

The ninth by-election. A different feeling. A different thought.

Last Saturday was the nomination day for the Tanjung Piai by-election. The feeling was different. There were no supporters that come from another political party. We only come from different places; but from the same political party which was formed since 1968.

Frankly, I was feeling anxious on the night before the nomination day although I am not the candidate. Feeling worried yet excited. Worried of ourselves not being able to garner the morale and momentum needed for the two weeks campaign. There were even some members who were feeling doubtful of us even developing the campaign mood for the by-elections.

But that Saturday was totally different and motivating. We woke up as early as 5am to get things prepared for our candidate to be nominated. The morning started with a little quiet and sober moment; more like a gathering of party members. 

As our crowd begin to swell with more and more members, small chats developed into members motivating each other; and further continued with small chants. When our candidate, Wendy Subramaniam arrives, the group gets even more excited and soon each of us leading our members into shouting war cries. 

“Satu Hati, Undi Wendy, Satu Hati, Undi Wendy”

Before that, we have the strength and voices of coalition partners shouting together. But we have never tested our own strength before, individually. That Saturday, we have seen our own strength, ourselves. Members standing under the hot sun for three hours at least, not moving away; continued cheering until the candidate was successfully nominated. That Saturday, it was simply exhilarating and motivating.

Weeks before that, I have been actively getting involved in the preparation for the by-election.

Although most of the operational structure is similar, there is a sense of distinct in this one’s.

Obviously, it is the first time in 50 years, we are using our own triangular logo once again for elections.

We are no longer working together in a coalition party this time around. Despite not having the benefit of coalition parties assisting us in the elections, I do see several benefits though.

We do not have to go through the hassle of negotiating with coalition partners anymore. It could sometimes be problematic with partners who do not go along with what you believe in, and those who are demanding can be troublesome.

We are also forcing ourselves to move forward with a truly Malaysian ideology. Previously, we depend on race-based parties to campaign within their own respective racial community. Today, we have to go to the ground despite which race our campaigners are, we campaign as Malaysians. We need to prove that we do not need a leader from a race to fight for the rights of the same race. Similarly goes to religion. That is because we are advocating for the benefit of all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or gender.

We were definitely taking a huge risk and challenge to contest in this by-election as an alternative force. But I feel that it should be a risk that should be taken. 

We have to introduce the idea of a viable alternative choice for the people. The two huge coalitions has been fighting and politicking too much in the country that I think many important agendas for the people have been forsaken. 

Both coalition has been striving and arguing for the sake of toppling the other and gain power. That is when I thought we need a stronger alternative choice to be developed, and not only Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Even if Pakatan Harapan retains the seat or Barisan Nasional manage to swing the seat, it wouldn’t make any difference in the Government. Pakatan Harapan will still be the Government, and Barisan Nasional will still be the Opposition.

But if an alternative force is given the mandate, it will give another viable voice of the people in the Parliament. It also serves as a warning to politicians not to politicised matters and focus too much on power struggle.

I believe Malaysians need to make a difference in our nation’s political scenario, we need to push the politicians to fight for the people, and not fighting over power. And that is when an alternative choice is needed.

That Saturday, changed our morale and momentum. Next Saturday, we will depend on Malaysians to change the mentality of our politicians.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 5th November 2019.