We Have Opposition!

on Sunday, March 09, 2008

I took part in Malaysia's 12th General Election with a heavy heart as I felt Malaysia continue on a downward spin due to a culture of racially motivated politics, corruption , cronyism and injustice. I also felt that with the Malaysian public's general political apathy and fatalism coupled with a not entirely fair election process, the election outcome would once again result in a domination by the ruling Coalition Government which has been the case since independence.

I was particularly upset by the emergence of some young candidates who were related to some older scandal associated politicians. These older politicians have been caught too many times with their hands in the cookie jar and thought that the Malaysian voter could be hoodwinked once again by them stepping aside but nominating instead their, son, daughter-in-law or their nephew. Even worse, these new generation of candidates seem to think it was their God-given right to the succession and this was reflected in some of the comments they made on the campaign trail (see last post).

I was so sure of the results that I did not even bother watching the coverage of the results as they began to come in across the country on the TV channels. Then I got a call from a friend at about 11 pm and he told me something special was happening. I turned on to the election coverage and was glued to it until 3 am. By the time, I awoke this Sunday morning, a miracle had taken place. The Malaysian voters had finally woken up and spoke out against the corruption in the system.

For the first time in almost 35 years, the National Front had been denied a two-third majority in Parliament(which would otherwise allow them to change law and constitution without needing the support of opposition parties). The Coalition of Opposition Parties won 88 seats in the 222 seat Parliament which is an increase of 61 seats since the last election.

At the state level elections, after the last election, the National Front Government held control of 12 of 13 states and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. Today, they lost 4 more states and the Federal Territory to the Opposition. This is a major achievement for the Opposition. The states lost include Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Perak. All of which are the industrial and commercial hubs of Malaysia, the premier states.

At a personal level, the electorate did not return the President and Vice-Presidents of at least two influential component parties of the National Front and also kicked out some prominent "strong-men" in the main National Front partners.

I rejoice that Malaysians have stood up and given this country an opportunity to change and reform. I rejoice because Malaysia is making important steps towards true democracy and equal justice. I rejoice that Malaysians said no to old party politics, corruption, nepotism and to arrogant new generation politicians who think they were not answerable to the people.

Even though, Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi is presiding over the worst ever electoral result of his National Front party, he will be able to form the new Government but for the first time, with a credible opposition in parliament. Bearing in mind that in 1969, the ruling coalition only lost two states but the backlash resulted in ethnic violence that killed hundreds, I am glad that this time, the country showed enough maturity to avoid violence.

I think the police have done well in maintaining the peace and upholding the constitution and the electoral process and should be congratulated. I also think that Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi has done a great service to Malaysia for allowing this election to be relatively clean, for accepting the outcome of the election graciously and for allowing democracy a chance to blossom.

I believe in a Malaysia governed by a Prime Minister who is willing to listen to the opposition and the people or as we say in Malaysia, the "rakyat".

Wow, so this is how democracy feels like! It is a high. Now is the time to be thankful and work towards a better Malaysia for ourselves and all our children.

25 comments:

Gina said...

Wow! I love to see things turn around. Like light in the darkness.
Nice writing!

Nepotism in politics is so annoying, isn't it...

Gerbil said...

Oh that is a hopeful way to start the day!

beachgirl said...

Congratulations on the positive change for your country.
I have a really good young friend that had to leave Malaysia for political asylum in his teens.
He is now a legal resident of the USA and loving it. He does miss his family though.

Best of luck to your family and country during this transition.

blackcrag said...

I'm glad you have a functioning opposition. Democracy is all about checks and balances.

Landslide majorities are hard on an electorate, especially over long periods of time, as the government gains an undeserved sense of entitlement.

Janice Thomson said...

Thank goodness for Opposition parties. What a wonderful turn of events for your people Calvin.

citizen of the world said...

A ray of hope! That's wonderful. May it go well for Malaysia.

A Happy Downtowner said...

Congratulations! I think that more and more countries will wake up and use their voting power. I think that now with knowing the world is watching and the new generation saying "we're not taking it the way you elders did" we will see more changes.

In Canada, although we have a relatively good political system, I still deplore the lack of involvement, especially the turnout at elections, it's very low. People don't seem to care. We need new blood but the old ones don't really want to give that up easily!

Exciting times for you, I'm happy.

Dr.John said...

Every once in a while democracy works.

kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

Hurray!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

gina,
It has been a long dark tunnel. We've made the u-turn but it's a long way back to the light.

gerbil,
The rest of my week's pretty bleak due to work commitments, so it is good to start it on a good note.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

beachgirl,
Thanks for dropping in and leaving such an encouraging comment. I think I understand your friend's situation. We give lip-service to a number of personal liberties including religious freedom.

blackcrag,
The ruling government has taken advantage of its landslide victories in the past to make some 400 amendments to law and constitution. Half of which only aids them in retaining power.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

janice,
Yay! for opposition. :)

cz,
Thanks. It is a long way back to the light but at least we are pointed in the right direction. Time will tell if this really translates to a government more responsive to the needs of the people.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

downtowner,
In many parts of the world, dictatorship and feudal systems are still in place and the rule of fear and intimidation has stifled democracy. I am thankful for each small victory and for Malaysia, this election has been a big victory.

dr.john,
Every once in awhile is right but it is so sweet when it happens. It gives hope.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

kimber,
Yay!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...
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Lone Grey Squirrel said...
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Dave said...

Sometimes when we are so used to seeing things go downhill, we forget that things could turn around. Thanks God for the changes that are taking place in your country LGS!

mago said...

That sounds all very good and hopeful! Especial the lack of violence. From time to time I look into the Jakarta Post and sometimes had a look into Malayan papers - will be interesting to read again.
Interesting that the change takes place or starts from certain places.

Proxima Blue said...

Yeah! And I rejoice with you!!!! I love your dancing meez too.
I hope this new year has been treating you well!
Take Care,
P

Josie said...

LGS, Congratulations! Having a strong opposition is very important. They will hold the government's feet to the fire.

This is indeed a huge victory for your country.

As Dr. John said, every once in a while, democracy works!

meggie said...

What a very pleasing result for you LGS. Perhaps the apathy & despair of the past are changing.

jmb said...

Great news indeed LGS. I hope all goes well with these new changes.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

dave,
indeed God has acted and responded to a praying church.

mago,
the lack of violence was good. Although there were at least three incidents of potential clashes, the police did well in averting them.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

proxima,
It is probably going to be a watershed year for me. Change is going to be painful but I think for the good.

josie,
I am encouraged that there are some good people and brave people in the country that had the courage to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming pressures.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

meggie,
could be our last chance for positive change.

jmb,
Thanks.

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