In that precise moment, under a daunting realization, I knew what I had become and dreaded it. I am one of those grown-ups who talks about politics. I knew that this day will come but not this soon.
I used to irk about all those old people at coffee shops talking about those in power on who’s doing what. I never saw the point of talking about people who you don’t know personally about and being passionately at that. I mean, why bother? It’s not like they know you. At all.
But all that changed during the recent general election. Even when they started to put up all those poster and flags, I saw it as a form of littering. Then, I went back to Kelantan on the eve of the naming of the candidates due to some family business, and it began to spark an interest in me.
The scene there, well, in Kota Bharu at least, was rather interesting. There was all this talk on how BN would bring out all the stops to take over Kelantan and make a clean sweep of all the states in the country. Yes, the blue and white flags were certainly in abundance but almost half-expectedly enough, the people there just couldn’t be bothered by all the campaigning. They just seem content as they have always been. No voices in support of change or development as being portrayed in the papers. One morning, my father and I went for breakfast at a small warung and the server, judging from our clothes, asked where we were from. My father replied jokingly, in Kelantanese, we came all the way from KL just to ‘pakoh bule’ (cross the moon). Joining in the amusement, she expressed her relief, ‘Ho mujurlah oghe dari Kolupo pung mari tolong,’ It was a harmless morning bicker but nonetheless reflects the overall sentiment of the community.
Pemuda BN put up a rather interesting banner throughout the place which I thought was rather creative. But, as I watched the League Cup Final at a roadside coffee shop that Sunday, the patrons there were making fun of it.
By the time I arrived back here at KL, I have a new take on the whole election picture. Prior to that, I was among the arrogant city folks who thought he knows what’s best for the people in Kelantan without even having properly live there despite being a Kelantanese himself. Sure, bring BN in and your state will prosper. But, there’s a saying, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. And that what was exactly going on in Kelantan. Suddenly, I was feeling like a Mr. goody two-shoes. What gives me the right to tell people living far away from me how they should live and what’s good for them? George, take note.
So, then, to me, the idea of a BN clean sweep suddenly seems rather bad. First of all, the people there are happy as they are. Why mess about? It’s not like a tyrant is ruling there practicing genocide. And second, in a larger picture, it is best for some form of opposition to be present in the political scene. Just for the sake of keeping the ruling party on their toes and not taking their power for granted (in which some may argue, is already happening). Monopoly is not a good thing. It breeds complacency. Just look at my Streamyx connection. It’s still rubbish. 1.0 Mbps my foot.
With that in mind, it is inevitable that the outcome of the general election intrigues me. Kelantan being my primary concern. As it turns out, I was worried for nothing. And yet, plenty to talk about.
I wasn’t that of an enthusiast like my father and elder brother who stayed up all night to catch the results live as they came in. I just woke up half past seven the next day and turn on the TV to catch the main results. As I imagined with many other Malaysians, I expected to see BN registering wins across the board. But when the ticker began to flash defeats to both Samy Vellu and Sharizat, I suddenly had my morning coffee. It was quite unbelievable. Then I went downstairs and my brother was trumpeting BN had lost I thought, surely not.
And then, as we all had experienced, the flurry and chaos that ensued. And no, we will not divulge further into that. What did I say? This is not a political blog. You have Malaysia Kini for that. And that is quite a site, mind you. Which moves me nicely, from my view, on what went wrong for BN in that general election. I have one word for you– Youths.
I think the only people who really knew that they and their opinions mattered, were the youths themselves. BN just didn’t connect with them. Or worse still, didn’t bother to. I think this all started way back in 2004 when they had that big memorable win. Remember what I said about complacency? And they were caught right in it. People who weren’t eligible to vote then, but were this year, are the 17 – 20 year old brackets back in 2004. And, judging by what the results have told us, our young generation is actually getting smarter and critically aware. Although, I still couldn’t fathom the obsession with Akademi Fantasia and Razak Mohaideen movies.
When I say that BN didn’t connect with our youths, I mean, literally didn’t connect. They were left behind in the mediums that were being used. Generally, all young people spend most of their time in front of their computers. Be it at home, at college, at Starbucks or the office for the fresh graduates. And they don’t go the newspaper sites such as Utusan Malaysia (except for Hadi) or the ones with the .gov.my at the end. They go to social utility sites, blogs and forwarding funny e-mails. And BN failed to recognize this evolution of communication. Instead of embracing technology to cultivate faith among youths they went the other way and did the single biggest mistake they could. Go against the bloggers.
Globally blogs are viewed as a new source of information. And in Malaysia, we have a healthy blogosphere going on. It wasn’t once of twice that we hear various politicians accusing bloggers of spreading lies and hearsays to spread hate among the people. I’ll admit there maybe some out there who set out to do just so. But, these politicians did not take the time to explore the subject deep enough and understand the culture behind blogging that when they came out harshly and saying such things, they didn’t sound like they were going against the actual evil doers but bloggers in general. And it is no secret most bloggers are young people. So when you do that, automatically you have gone against them and hugely disrespected a medium in which they value highly. And they wonder why more people tend to prefer what they could read on the internet rather than the normal medium of newspapers and TV. Well, why shouldn’t they? After all, all they could read in the papers of youths being blamed for everything from crime rates to poor academic performance. And they only watch TV for AXN, MTV or the sports channel.
What’s more, internet news is quicker and more direct. No smoke screens or bullshit as in the papers. We don’t care what event you’re officiating or charity dinners you’re going to. We have questions about the decisions you made and we expect reasonable justification. Not responding them and branding them as pure gossip only creates further suspicion. As they say you cannot believe everything you read in the newspapers, not everything are lies on the internet. And these doubts and suspicion, are not made by few, but many. And most of them are from well-educated people. People who knows the system and says ‘hang on, something’s not right here,’ Of course the rest will start giving notice. And this what built up for the last couple of years and I don’t believe BN realized this and hence, did not keep it in check.
The election results is not an indication of the people’s improved faith in the opposition party (God knows they’re not that grand either) but continued lack of trust for BN. A point made clearly by Tun Mahathir. Love him or hate him. You have to admit he has a brilliant mind.
As for the opposition, well, testing times for them as well. Abolishment of tolls? Reduce oil price by 30 cents? Come on. Does anybody actually believe that? Yes, the current toll rates can be murderous but then again, constructing those three-lane highways is not an easy job. Or a cheap one at that. And, yes, it does need maintenance from time to time. You’re talking about hundreds of miles of concrete slabs. At some point, some will need patching up. So, reduced charges are a more likely scenario at best, considering you have to renegotiate the agreements. Total abolishment is rather ridiculous. And oil price? World economy? Hello? High oil prices is not the makings of the Malaysian government. The rest of the world is suffering from it as well. You want to blame someone? Blame George and his so-called war on terror. Or invasion is more likely. And what’s this I hear about making Petronas footing part of the subsidy bill? Have you no shame? So just because Petronas is in the right business at the right time somehow gives some outsiders the right to share the company’s wealth? Who are you? Joseph Stalin? And free medical? You only need to pay RM1 upon entry at a government hospital to find out what’s wrong with you. And that includes all the MRIs, biopsies and other expensive tests you can think of. If you go to Glen Eagles or Ampang Puteri then of course you will have to pay big money and that’s not the government’s call. That’s the board of directors of that particular hospital. Even if you are an MP of Ampang there nothing much you can do. Be thankful you’re not living in the US. Watch Sicko to knock some sense into you.
And although with yesterday’s announcement of the new cabinet, the dust is finally getting settled, many are still reserving judgment especially on the new faces. My mother works for the Ministry of Health and when she heard the name Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, all she could say was she never heard of him. As for me, my concern has always been the Youth and Sports Minister and that position is handed to Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaacob. Well, at least he’s a dude. One thing that annoyed me about Azalina is that she tends to focus on the smaller niched sports, like powerboats, nursing them like forgotten orphans. While giving a rat’s ass about the bigger and more locally supported sports such as football and badminton. At least Hishamuddin brought X-Games to our shores. You have to give him credit for that. However, I too would like to reserve mu judgment on Ismail Sabri. A quick dig and I found out that he once dissed AF but soon enough his son Dafi was seen prancing around in season 5 of the show. And, just to add spice, he was also once those people who branded bloggers as irresponsible liars. So, unless you perform a miracle (such as Malaysia qualifying for the World Cup), I might consider giving you a break. For two weeks.
As for the rest, it’d be interesting how the Works and International Trade Ministries would do after the departure of Samy Vellu and Rafidah. Which is quite sad, really, because without Samy, who are we gonna make fun of now?
Now, the scene is set to see how everything pans out. With the opposition granted a stronger voice now, it’s time for them to show what they can do which they pointed BN has failed upon. As for BN, have a blog site. For each minister. And Facebook account. And have someone make a Wikipedia entry on all the cabinet members. That would be a start.
And don’t be surprised if Serting is promoted as a prime tourist destination in the near future. That’d be Azalina doing her work. Where is Serting, you may ask? Exactly.