Sunday, 5 May 2013

How much will our votes matter at the end of today?

Today is an important day for everyone in my family. We are going to the polls to choose a better Malaysia not only for ourselves but for all Malaysians of all ages, race and religion.

I shall be going to Seberang Jaya in a few hours' time to cast my vote in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency while my wife will be joined by my daughter and son to vote in the Bukit Mertajam constituency. I have full confidence that they will do right with their choices.

This shall be the first time that my two children are able to exercise their constitutional rights. They are pretty excited over it. My daughter, while working in Kuala Lumpur, arrived home yesterday. My son returned from the island.

Yesterday, we were a complete family unit again and we sat down to dinner discussing the political process. We haven't done that before, imagine that!

Also yesterday, I bumped into a neighbour. He used to run a sundry shop amidst a Malay-populated area along Jalan Permatang Pauh - that's multi-culturalism for you - but gave up the business several years ago as he was getting old and no one among his children wanted to follow his footsteps. He asked me whom I was going to vote for. "Anwar Ibrahim," I answered unhesitatingly. "Me too," he told me. We looked at one another and laughed. There was an irony. Although we now stay in Bukit Mertajam, we did not want to change our voting centre from Permatang Pauh. We wanted to be a part of the history in this constituency.

My neighbour mused to me. He told me that he had been a party member of the Malaysian Chinese Association since 1969. Until 2004, he had been voting for the Barisan Nasional party. But after the injustices suffered by Anwar Ibrahim, my neighbour had been voting for the opposition since then. He told me that suddenly, he saw for himself all the excesses and hypocrisy of the ruling political party.

As for me, I do not remember the first time that I was able to vote. I registered myself late and so I think it was only in the 1980s that I began voting. Perhaps in the past too, I had been politically naive and just didn't care who won in my constituency. Sometimes, I just thought that all the candidates in my area were useless.

In fact, what I remember vividly was that in 1995, it was on purpose that I had spoilt my vote because I couldn't bring myself to vote for Anwar Ibrahim (at that time, he was still in the Barisan government) or his PAS opponent. But ever since that same year, 2004, it had been Anwar Ibrahim or his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, all the way.

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