Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Countdown to a Blast Off

Four more days. Then history will be created. I can't wait for it to happen but yet I feel a little anxious of a tiny spark to mar the event. A little over 5 years ago I was at this similar situation but I wasn't as excited or angry as now. Five years is a long time. When I tried looking for a blog post I discovered I only started this blog in August 2008 and the 12th General Election had taken place 5 months before, to be exact on 8th March. So this blog is a few months short of its 5th anniversary. In that time Facebook and Twitter came on the scene to change the whole social networking landscape. While blogs are more open unless you keep them private, FB and Twitter are instantaneous and updates are pushed into your inboxes to read and respond to. Malaysian politics took advantage of these latest mobile communication tools and users began to desert hard media in preference to digital transmission. I am a late adopter but a beneficiary to the latest news I read online or forwarded by well intended friends.

I remember the last 2 elections well. In 2003 after Dr Mahathir stepped down as UMNO president Ahmad Badawi took over and became the 5th prime minister. At that election he promised reform and the people took his words literally and he scored a runaway victory. After being under Dr M dictatorship for 22 years many people look forward to a refreshing change of leadership. It unfortunately didn't happen. In 2003 I had voted for the government as I believed Badawi could restore what Mahathir took away, a nation of self respect. But Badawi was literally sleeping on the job. In 2008 we packed him away and took away the prized 2/3 majority in Parliament. This infuriated the UMNO leadership who forced Badawi into retirement. In the business world we call it sacking. Badawi was replaced by Najib Razak who was no better. In a few days history will repeat in UMNO. Whatever the outcome Najib is not expected to stay on as PM for long. Mahathir has already planned to put up his son Mukhriz to be a PM after the interim stand in PM, the current deputy PM Muhyiddin finishes a short tour of duty (if Mahathir plan works and he live long enough to execute it).

I remember 8 March 2008 as I stood in the queue to vote for my candidates. At that time the mood was already for change. It was palpating in the air. People voted in protest. The Pakatan Rakyat coalition was new and hasn't established itself as a possible alternative federal government. The incumbent representative we voted in in 2003 stood for re-election in the same constituency. But I could see he was worried over his chance of retaining victory. He had rode on the popularity of Badawi in 2003 to win. This time he was riding on the disappointment against Badawi to lose. And he did lose, to a young and fresh candidate. We had voted change on the premise that if you cannot fulfill the mandate you will have to go no matter how nice or how good a person you may be.

Five years on, now in 2013, we again face the same question. Is the government capable of meeting the aspirations of Malaysians to lift the nation out of the many troubles it face? Ask around and 9 out of 10 will thumb down the government for not only doing a bad job, but a terrible job. Camouflaging its poor performance by manipulating data and sweet talk and fanciful tag line that means nothing the growing dissent was being felt in public rallies held since 2010. Anger and abuses appear daily in online commentaries. Character assassination against UMNO leaders became a daily affair. There was no concrete solution to the questions raised. Najib is as sleepy as Badawi, and evasive. Some even find him insincere and manipulative. The rejection of Najib this year is likely to be more severe than the rejection of Badawi in 2008. UMNO failed to honor its promise to cleanse itself. On the contrary it had morphed into a worse organization to the extend that a movement called ABU or Anything But UMNO has caught the support and imagination of citizens far and wide.

Support for the opposition has grown tremendously over the past weeks since the election campaigns started. Public meetings organized by them received overwhelming attendance and thunderous applauses while those by the government received lukewarm support even when free food was thrown in.

The voting public has been warned of likely phantom voters and spoilt ballot papers caused by irregularities due to smudges from undried indelible ink or deliberately placed marks overlooked by unsuspecting voters. This time round voters are informed to vote early and vote smart. I vividly remember in 2008 while standing in the queue telling those beside me how good it feel to be able to decide the fate of the government. It is less of a punishment to vote them out but of the sad feeling of betrayal that they did not honor their words to retain our loyal support. For now it appear the opposition has offered a good deal too good to not vote for.

Standby for a blast off into a new orbit by a new crew.

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