Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let the Battle Begins

Nomination for 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats proceeded without a hitch this morning signifying the 13th general election has gone off to a good start. The weather around the country was generally good, no rain was reported and no accidents or incidents marred this crucial day. So did my wife and experienced the same when we went for our morning walk in a nearby recreational park. Most were oblivious that even as they exercised, walked and jogged, hundreds of thousands of supporters for the Barisan coalition and the Pakatan Rakyat opposition were marching or gathering at the hundreds of nomination centres across the whole nation to receive nomination papers from the aspiring candidates, their proposers and seconders. While most of the seats were straight fights between the Barisan and Pakatan candidates, some are contested by independent candidates out to prove a point or grab some historic limelights at the risk of losing their deposits. This 13th General Election is after all not any election but one that can tip the scale and usher in a change in the whole way this nation is going to be administered. More importantly this election see for the first time the vocalness of many voters and mark an emotional high for many. I've never seen so much anger and indignation in recent weeks with most of the venom and hatred aimed at the Barisan government. I commented wryly to my wife the other day, even before the Election Commission gives the go ahead to campaign, which is to be after nomination ends, for the next 15 days until voting takes place on May 5, Barisan has invaded all available public space along dividers, roundabouts, fences, lamp posts, poster boards, etc with their blue flags carrying the scale of justice symbol. I've estimated they spent several million ringgits on the flags, bamboo poles and labour. And to what avail I asked? Would they help sway decision of the voters who've long ago made up their mind to kick them out of Putrajaya? Being a person who hates environmental pollution I find all the flags distasteful and irritating. Any love for Barisan flew out the window for the way they abuse their might to violate election rules.

When Barisan lost their 2/3 majority at the 12th general election on March 8, 2008, many of us felt that Barisan, if they keep to their promise to rectify their mistakes and be a more caring government, can keep our votes this election. Pakatan was a young coalition unseasoned, untested and inexperienced. But they won 5 states (later lost one due to backdoor power grab by Barisan with the help of royalty) that allow the people to see if they are any good administering at state levels. And they did very well in Penang and Selangor which gave confidence to the people. In 5 years Pakatan matured as a coalition although internal strives continue to worry the people. However each time they come under attack by Barisan and its supporters Pakatan grew closer and stronger. Denied rights to express their policies to the public by government controlled media, they developed their own and depended on internet news channels to provide readers and viewers insights and comparisons. Pakatan came up with a slew of programs and strategies to uplift the nation from its woes created by 30 odd years of misrule started by the former prime minister, Dr Mahathir, who is still in control. Barisan on the other hand depends on cash handouts and grand economic transformation programs to impress the people that they bring immediate and long term benefits to the population. Over the last 5 years cost of living have spiralled, crime rates increased alarmingly, unemployment of graduates grew, migrant population grew to worrisome level, racial harmony dipped to historical low, religion intolerance became a big concern, families worry over the safety of their children and themselves, and for those in cities, traffic jams and bad public transportation made going to work and returning home endlessly frustrating and annoying. The government had not spent their 5 years solving existing problems. They added newer ones, making Malaysia, once a beautiful and livable nation, a sorry state to ordinary citizens. All these made the people angry and helpless. In such a state the desire and cry for change grew louder and stronger. And the vehicle to help this change take place was provided by Pakatan. And the people was relieved that after 56 years of continuous rule by Barisan since 1957, there is a chance of a new government ready and willing to listen to the people's complaints. And the single reason why change must take place this May 5 is to prevent Malaysia from becoming another Greece. Prime Minister Najib was bleeding the nation by spending hundreds of billions of riggit on his pet tranformation programs with dubious outcome. Many concerned Malaysians believe that handing Barisan another 5 years will surely bankrupt the nation. In fact one of his minister unwittingly remarked that if no action is taken to arrest the fiscal overspending, Malaysia will be bankrupt by 2019.

The facts have been laid bare for all to read and analyse. There are those who wants to retain Barisan for selfish reasons. They want to keep their gravy trains going and couldn't care if the trains fly off the cliffs one day. But enough concerned Malaysians wanting to stay and not migrate are deciding to take charge of the driver and turn around this Titanic before it runs aground and destroy the population. Change have to take place, not in 2018 but now, in 2013. The battle has begin. Dirty tactics will be used. Phantom and postal votes will help increase the counts in favor of the Barisan candidates. Voters who love Malaysia are urged to turn out in full force, rain or shine, on May 5, preferably early, to cast their votes. Malaysians residing or working overseas must return to vote. All voters must be alert to make sure their votes are not disqualified on technical grounds like smudges from indelible ink stain or foreign marks place deliberately on their ballot papers.

May the better coalition wins and may Malaysia arise through the will of the people exercised peacefully through their ballot papers.

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