Monday, June 2, 2014
Words of Encouragement
It must be painful for you to have lost the Teluk Intan by-election by a narrow margin, when you should have won comfortably. You have been personally abused and maligned, and money has been used freely to deny you your victory.
Although you’ve put on a brave front and you’ve said that it’s just the beginning for you—it will spur you to work harder in the political arena—I feel you must also be aware of the real challenges so that you and other young aspirants in politics will not be disappointed or discouraged from participating in the process altogether.
Firstly, do not pay too much attention to the so-called clever political analysts, who have come up with several reasons why you failed. They said you were a greenhorn unable to handle questions from the Press. They said that your opponent was more experienced and could serve the constituency better. They even said that your UiTM fellow-alumni were against you.
All of this is rubbish.
The DAP did not make a mistake in fielding you. They would have lost even if they had put up someone else. For as long as an election is not conducted on a level playing field—and the Election Commission is powerless to ensure a fair election—talking of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of candidates is idiotic.
I will now tell you why you lost, and I hope this can help you and others interested in politics to be better prepared in future.
Until we have a proper Election Commission that is impartial and willing to do its duty to ensure free and fair elections, you should not waste your time in another contest. There are seats like Bukit Gelugor or Bukit Bintang where you can win despite the present Election Commission, but you will not get those seats.
Most seats contested are generally closely balanced in terms of support, and only a free and fair election will give someone like you a chance.
However, the present Commission is not totally at fault for the situation—it’s just that they have no power to act in the same way as other Commissions (such as those in India, Indonesia or South Africa) do.
Our Commission can only arrange voting centres, print ballot papers and count them. They have no power to stop lies and personal attacks of the most vicious kind. They do not think bribery, threats, promises or inducements by Ministers are corrupt practices. They do nothing but watch the “show” put on at great expense to taxpayers.
So, if you want to be in the political game for the long haul, overhaul the Election Commission. Try persuade Lim Kit Siang that his legacy will not consist of being the person who took over Putrajaya (for the DAP will not achieve that in his lifetime), but as someone who struggled and succeeded in leaving the country with an Election Commission that works fearlessly to ensure that elections are reasonably free and fair to everyone.
You see Dyana, Bashar al-Assad and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also conduct elections in their countries. They also print ballot papers and count them. They just do not want a free and fair contest.
Try to persuade Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the focus of the Opposition should be on making fair elections a reality. This struggle has more meaning that the one he has been pursuing for the past 15 years, which is to persuade people that grave injustices were perpetrated against him personally.
Tell him that the real injustice is denying the people of Malaysia free and fair elections. If he wants to be remembered for the right reasons, then he must change tack and struggle for fair elections even if he is in Sungei Buloh Prison.
Make friends with Mat Sabu and get him to mobilise a 500,000-strong assembly demanding a new Election Commission and appropriate laws that will give the Commission power to conduct elections at a standard at least comparable to our neighbour Indonesia.
Bersih must reignited and Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan be brought back to spearhead the movement. If you can persuade P. Waytha Moorthy of Hindraf to join the movement, the chances of getting more Indians to join the march for change will be enhanced—500,000 is doable if everyone is focused and realises that the Barisan Nasional will not allow for free and fair elections unless they are forced to.
The Opposition has a fancy idea that they can win Putrajaya on the combined platforms of the injustices against Anwar, the Hudud Plan and DAP’s multiracialism. These platforms are all over the place and the Opposition does not want to deal with the most important issue: free and fair elections.
They should put their struggle in focus, and this must begin with changing the Commission and the election laws.
Anyway, Dyana, the positive side of the Teluk Intan experience is that many young voters are with you. This is important but—trust me—it is not enough to win the next round and the many elections after that. UMNO and the Barisan Nasional will not allow anyone to win an election fairly; and that is what you must fight now.
Do not worry too much about Putrajaya, like so many of your friends in the Pakatan Rakyat. It will only happen if we have free and fair elections, and not before.