By: Choo Sing Chye
Malaysia has an electoral-political system in which the direction of the politics is determined by ballots. The government is formed not by a bloody contest in a battlefield but in a marketplace of choices whereby we count heads rather than chopping them off. Thus, we should attach a high premium value on our votes and it is silly just to spoil them.
To say the least, I am not inspired by your ‘Undi-Rosak’ campaign. This campaign will lead you to tell the people not to vote for any politician across the board. You do not care whether the politician is corrupt or honest and competent - you just want the vote to be spoiled.
In fact what you are doing is leaving the market place of choices and letting the corrupt politicians and their goons to do the bidding among themselves - the more ‘undi-rosak’ the better.
Frankly speaking, can your action of spoiling the vote makes the practitioners of divisive and hate politics go away? Certainly not. In fact it strengthens them.
Surely, this should not be the inspiration you wish to have or inculcate in our young, more so to influence them to embrace your unthinking campaign.
If you plan this campaign for the voters in the hope that a certain party could win, then it is very nasty of you. But if you do it just to tell politicians off, then it is not a very clever endeavour.
As future leaders, you should not lose your intellectual ability to articulate the problems of the people eloquently to our potential leaders and to our voters, especially the young.
Resolutely you should be inspired by idealism in politics and able to peel away the layers of deceptions which seems to permeate into every nooks and crannies of our society during election time. Thus walking away from this responsibility is not wise.
To make this article short, I wished to recount my experience in Canada just to give an idea of a good government.
As a young student in Canada, I was inspired, yes, very much inspired by the near-free hard right-wing politics and a corrupt free government. This is all because the Canadian voters are well informed and they are very assertive in their choice of voting in honest and competent politicians to run the country.
The province of Manitoba was governed by the left-of-center NDP (New Democratic Party) similar to the Liberal Party in Great Britain which dabbles itself with what politicians call Community politics or Lee Lam Thye politics as we use to call in Malaysia.
The impact of their soft-left policies had a tremendous effect on me. I was able to graduate from the Brandon University because the NDP provincial government was able to put a cap on the rising university fees while the rest of Canada, the fees went up by 100 to 700%. Being a corrupt free provincial government they were able to subsidised a huge part of the fee. The NDP was able to do this because education is controlled by the provincial government and not the Federal government as we have in Malaysia. My whole 3 year degree cost me C$2,400 (RM4,200).
I am truly grateful to the NDP Manitoba provincial government, if not for their soft-left policies, I would have to come back home without a degree.
Another huge impact of these policies was on the new arrivals in Canada, the Vietnamese Refugees.
On my second semester (first year) in university, I was invited by Dinh Lam, a Vietnamese Refugee to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family.
On arriving there, I realised that he was renting a small basement room. It was small and sparsely filled with old and worn out furniture, but tidy. Dinh Lam was apologetic about the condition of his basement room which I told him not to.
His ordeal began in the mid 70’s where the discriminative racial and hate politics of the Communist Vietnam was so intolerable that his family decided that he and his two sisters should take the risk and leave the country.
On the day he left Vietnam, he was only 17 years old. His eldest sister was 21 and his old younger sister, 10.
They all cramped into a fishing trawler boat with 40 other refugees. About a week at sea, the boat hit shore on a small island off Indonesia. The moment they set foot on the island, the village chief and his men immediately took all his family heirloom jewelleries and a few hundred US dollars they were carrying. He and his two sisters were left completely with nothing except for the clothes they are wearing.
Luck and timing was on their sides, when Canada’s left-of-center Liberal Party Government of Late Pierre Trudeau announced that the country was taking in 40,000 refugees, Dinh Lam and his two sisters were extremely lucky to be on the list.
In Canada they were welcomed by the Maronites. The Maronites gave them food and warm clothing and a place to stay until they were able to fend for themselves.
A few months later, he found employment as a factory worker assembling telephones and his eldest sister, a restaurant worker. Both were paid a minimum wage of $6 an hour. His younger sister got a place in the Canadian public school.
With the deep recession blowing across Canada, the telephone factory was not spared. The factory management had no choice but to reduce the working days from 5 to 3 days so that they can keep all its employees and the factory afloat. The Canadian government stepped in and pay the balance of 2 days. In doing so, the factory could weather the recession and the employees like Dinh Lam could stay on with full pay.
In my final year in Canada, he again invited me to his house to spend probably the last Chinese New Year with them. This time round, I was surprised that they were staying in a detached large house and the furniture inside was of high quality. Furniture that we could find in upper middle class home in Malaysia.
Curiously I asked him how much the rental was? “No, I bought the house,” came the surprising reply. He quickly ushered me to the back of the house, and showed me a speed boat and declared proudly, “I bought this too”.
That summer we went boating in his speed boat and I must admit, it was the most exciting time of my life.
It is inspiring to note that in less than three years they were able to achieve their dreams. As for me, after coming back from Canada for more than three decades, I could not even achieve 50 per cent of their dreams like many other Malaysians.
My choice is clear – I vote for Harapan.
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