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.

A third choice?

Decisions are one of the things that we do most everyday, whether we notice it or not. From very small decisions like what to wear and what to eat; to huge decisions such as which job to apply, which car or house to buy.

Whether it is making simple day-to-day decisions or big decisions in life, we make decisions based on valid reasons.

When we make decision on what time to take a shower very much depending on what time we have to go to work or what time is our appointment. 

When we are to decide what to eat for lunch, depends on what is available at that time, what does our tastebuds love or maybe when it is during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, then we have to take vegetarian food.

These are much simpler decisions that we make daily, but it still has a valid reason and choices out there.

Making bigger decisions might require longer and more in-depth process though, for example when we buy a car.

The first thought is usually the budget, how much can we afford the car. Then we consider the practicality of it, whether how big our family is, what kind of terrain to we usually drive by, do we carry a lot of things daily, or how efficient is the after-sales service of the company?

We will also look into the technical aspects; how fast can the car go, is it cost-efficient when it comes to petrol, is it environmental-friendly, does it connects to my handheld-device, and many other things.

Or some may decide more on the aesthetic part of it, such as the design, the colour, the type of the rim or the lights.

This of course, comes with a lot of choices. 

But when we decide on who is our representative in the Parliament and State Assembly; and who to govern our country, do we have choices?

Since the first general election in 1955, there is only one coalition that won the majority of the Parliament seats in the country and rules the Government, which is the Alliance, and subsequently formed the Barisan Nasional.

There was a sudden shock for the ruling party in 1969 where they lost a significant number of seats although they still remain as the Government; until in the 1990s that we see a stronger opposition coalition beginning to start-up. Then, it was the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah and Gagasan Rakyat that came out to contest against Barisan Nasional. The coalition subsequently breaks up though and some of the parties came up with Barisan Alternatif to run against the ruling party in the 1999 and 2004 general elections.

The opposition coalition kept evolving and grew into Pakatan Rakyat; then Pakatan Harapan, and as we all knew it, they won in the 2018 general elections.

Since the 2008 general elections, Malaysians made a two-party system came true, whereby we have a significant strength among the opposition Member of Parliaments.

Despite all the scandals, corruption and negativity in politics; I think the political scenario gives a good hope for democracy in Malaysia. From having only one significant choice of a political party; we have grown to a two stronger choices of political parties.

But are we able to grow even further in democracy by having more stronger political parties in Malaysia? Do we have more choices when it comes to choosing who to represent us in the Dewan Rakyat? Do we really want just a two party system where we are forced to vote either one of the two which may not be suitable?

A third choice may sound ideal, but is it able to grow in our country? 

Usually, third parties face an uphill battle in terms of electoral success due to political system in a democratic country like Malaysia. Even in instances where the potential supporter may align themselves most with a certain third party, in the face of overwhelming odds against impacting an election, it makes more sense just to stay home or back a coalition party in compromise.

Growing into a stronger two-party system has also created more political bickering than ever in our country. Politicians are quarreling and criticizing each other just because they are not from the same party. Due to the strength of both coalition, the petty bickering seems non-stopping. The Government has forgotten about their responsibility of ruling, and the opposition has forgotten about their role of monitoring. What these two huge coalition focuses is to topple each other in the next general elections. 

Probably it is high time that we advocate for a stronger third party to arise. A third choice to remind the roles of the Government and the opposition. A third choice to remind that we have to make the country better, and not the political party better.

When we choose to buy a car and a house, we consider with so much details and choices. I think the same should be done when we choose who to govern our country.

What truly matters is not which party controls the government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 8th October 2019.