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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some thoughts about the election

As the election day draws closer in Malaysia, the various political parties are stepping up their campaigns to win more votes. As of now, the National Front (Barisan Nasional) has already won 10 11 seats. Two of the seats in Sabah were automatically awarded to BN because the representatives from the opposition parties were disqualified from nomination for turning up late (see here). If I am not mistaken, Einstein said that time is relative.

On a serious note, the opposition leaders know that they have to fight much harder if there going against a heavy gun like Barisan Nasional (BN). Arriving before 9am on the nomination day not only prevents problems like this but projects the image of an exemplary leader, a recognition, which ironically, goes to the BN representative this time.

Having said that, one cannot help but feel betrayed by an outcome of this nature. A person can come up with a million good reasons for breaching the nomination day rules and yet be disqualified from continuing. The world is not fair if you do not have the resources or if you are an underdog. And even when the election results rule in your favor, you can still be denied your victory.

Which brings me back to the mid-80s when I was still a teenager. After school, I would spend some of my time lepak-ing (loitering) up in the hills which is a walking distance from my house. There are interesting things up there but I am not going to talk about these yet. Anyway, on this particular day, I was just enjoying the aerial view of my hometown, Kota Kinabalu. I could see from Tanjung Aru all the way to Tanjung Lipat. As I was scanning around, suddenly a column of smoke puffed up among some buildings in the distance. Minutes later, another one blew up somewhere further to the right. I didn't realize what that meant.

When I got back down, I saw that the main road coming from the town was filled with slow-moving traffic. That was when I sensed something wasn't right. By a strange coincidence, I met my parents, who had been worried and driving around in search of me. As soon as we got back home, the gates were closed and we were all to remain in the house. And so was everyone in the neighborhood. An emergency curfew had been enforced, with immediate effect. Moving targets would be shot in sight. At least that was how serious it sounded.

What happened was riots were erupting in Sabah already. People were planting bombs in public places. A teacher's car was destroyed in a carpark complex when a bomb exploded. Fortunately nobody was in the car. In another case, a bomb exploded near a gas station. I think somebody wasn't so lucky there and got killed.

I don't really remember the chronology of the events. However, that was a suspenseful period. I had been following closely the election results that night on TV. The opposition party, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), led by the paramount leader, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, won the election. In the midst of their celebration, another political leader, had gone into the palace to be sworn in as the next chief minister. It was one of the most deplorable acts in Sabah history.

There were rumors that bribery or death threats were used against the then governor to perform the ritual. While this was happening, Pairin and his supporters were locked outside the palace grounds and denied his rightful position and title as the new chief minister. Finally the matter was laid to rest in the evening after intervention by the former Deputy Prime Minister (I think, need verification). Pairin was sworn-in as the real chief minister while the other guy officially became the shortest ruling chief ministry in Malaysia (and world?) history.

Of course it wasn't a bed of roses for the new government when they ran the state, especially when you are up against the big guns. It wasn't easy also when they fought in the following elections. They got smarter though. They made sure that everyone stayed together (in the same house) during the vote-counting process because believe it or not, money or power can turn men into frogs. They also made sure that the palace episode would not repeat itself by rushing there as soon as they won.

This year's election is also unique in that it features a well-known blogger, Jeff Ooi, as a representative for the first time. Like I said in my previous post (Incredible Internet), the internet is revolutionizing the world. The extend of the power of internet is such that some minister(s) are threatening blogger censorships for 'misleading' readers.

I have come across good bloggers like zewt, 5xmom etc. and I don't find anything less patriotic about them. They have urged their respective fellow bloggers and their friends to exercise their right to vote. They have tried to create an awareness among their audience that voting is an important business. From a blogger to another blogger, if you disagree with blog censorship, now is the time to send your message across. History has shown that laying low (like not doing anything, sitting on the fence) only invites more bullying. The extend of bullying also covers non-bloggers as well. 'Minorities' basically.

In the coming days, we will be hearing a lot more about the election campaigns. In addition to the usual media that you read or listen to, you can find alternative sources of information in the links I listed in this post.

Time is relative, according to Einstein. That means to you, now is evening time and ready for dinner. To me, it is past bedtime and I would be late for breakfast.

[Here's a good link for Sabah political development.]

An awesome explanation on the concept of time....(maybe I'll move this to a different post later)


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

hi! everywhere i go i hear about the elections n not once have i heard any support for BN. yet i know BN will win, not only bc of dirty tactics n control of the media but also the opposition parties r splitting our votes. BN ppl r laughing their butts off.

i've also noticed tt every blogger tt mentions the election is a thinking blogger :) n support the opposition. but in reality, there's so few voters among bloggers.

Susu Kacang said...

lol...me no thinker. me only copycat thinker.

i remember when PBS fielded Kadoh Agundong to stand for election. was he a teacher or rubber tapper (sorry, don't remember) but he beat Sabah Chief Minister, Harris Salleh. Just shows how people power can work when they are desperate.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

yes, i remember the euphoria in those days. it was really people's power. but what a let-down PBS is. look at all those PBS leaders, all katak. Pairin, Yong Teck Lee n Yee Mo Chai etc. Yee used to be the Chinese's hero. now he's like lee lam thye of DAP--when the going gets tough he got going.

Susu Kacang said...

Really ah? Yee also like that? That's such a pity. Aiyoh, I am not up-to-date.

zewt said...

it's good to know that our efforts bear fruit... now that BN has been denied 2/3.... hope things will change. but bloggers should not stop now... more things need to be done...

Susu Kacang said...

this reminds me of star wars - imperial vs rebel forces....Anakin and all. does that mean we are in episode 4, aka "A New Hope"?

i think you did a great job in promoting the political awareness in your readers. congratulations!

p.s. i hope we are not in episode 3, aka "Revenge of the Sith" ;)