There are certain mammoth events that are so big, they end up defining you and transforming you. They mark a growth shift and the start of a brand new phase. We, the nation, just had one of those epic events: the 14th General Election.
Congratulations, Malaysia! You’ve grown up. You’re no longer a kid blundering with imprudent foolhardiness. You’re now more mature and conscious politically. You’ve demonstrated greater civic responsibility and engagement. You’ve graduated politically and made us darn proud.
I see a country that’s older, wiser and more responsible. A country that was willing to go all out and collectively get together to get a job done.
The lengths people took to cast their votes were exceptional. Some waited in queues for hours, others drove across the country and barely slept to reach home to vote. On social media, hundreds of thousands of ringgit were raised to help voters get home.
Some Malaysians abroad even got long-haul flights crowdfunded, while other travellers were “mules”, bringing home the postal votes of others. This was truly extraordinary and exemplary.
The magic element for me was hope.
I actually began writing this article as the nation had just gone to the polls, and still had its heart in its mouth as it waited for the results of this highly-contested election. I wanted to write that we shouldn’t lose hope, even if we don’t see the change we want.
And then as results trickled in, I saw that indeed we were holding onto hope. We’re still a young nation with a large young population. Unlike older nations that can get mired in doubt and scepticism, we still want to believe and we still have a can-do spirit that belongs to the young. Malaysia Boleh, remember?
Hope brought us forward to a brand new day and country. Now let’s hang on hard to hope. Let’s continue to believe in Malaysia and search our imaginations to dream up a bright future for her. We should march forward with a clear vision ahead. A revised Vision 2020?
My vision for Malaysia is of a multiracial, modern democracy. A fully-accountable, functioning government that holds the interests of the people first. A country with strong institutions including the judiciary, law and order, the bureaucracy and media. An inclusive society that embraces diversity and provides equality of opportunity. The collective participation of many.
What’s your vision?
We must not lose our voices. A political voice is not a once-in-five-years event. We shouldn’t remain mute in-between elections. Indeed, it has been said that the people’s voice has a critical role in improving governance.
So, people, make your voices heard. Give your support or lodge your protests. Give your consensus or make your challenge. Do it through social media or social movements, or public forums or the media. Don’t wait another five years. It’s up to us to hold our government responsible.
Remember, we’ve been through uncharted waters before. It may not all be smooth sailing, but we’ve ploughed on and come out fine, still on course to our destination. Let me take you back to our beginnings.
“Today… a new nation is born and though we fully realise that difficulties and problems lie ahead, we are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today’s events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide.”
Those were the words of the nation’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, on Aug 31, 1957. They hold true for us now. The Tunku also promised, “We in this country will do all in our power to promote its well-being in the interests of mankind in general.”
I think we did just that when we showed the world what people power looks like. Sail on, Malaysia. You’ve got my vote, my heart and my hopes.