Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Power

The recent general elections have been a real eye-opener for me. As with the rest of my fellow Malaysians, I was in shock and awe at the sheer scale of the opposition's victory. In some states, even the tables were turned; the opposition is now the ruling goverment, and the previous goverment is now the opposition. How incredibly unprecedented. And how historic it is that we have finally made that first, important step towards a 2-party government. A government that has better conscience, and leaders who serve the people instead of protecting the interests of a select few.

We are no longer held back by fear, and we have transcended the barriers of race and religion to achieve the same goals. Malaysians have certainly come of age, and more importantly the coalition has shown (for now) that the country can have a multiracial/multireligious band of leaders working together for a higher cause. I hope that this will be the path to councils and goverments that are truly merit-based; leaders who are right and able to do the job irregardless of race or religion.

Much has been said, printed and blogged on about the elections and the huge array of statistics that come with it. Numbers, facts, rumours and analyses can be discussed to no end. But the one thing that struck me the most, and that really opened my eyes is this word - Power.

Power of the people
This election has been one of, if not the most significant and crucial elections in the history of Malaysian politics. Long have the people suffered in silence, stifled without a true voice in the parliament to demand for their rights and to scrutinize biased bills/policies/laws that benefited few and caused anguish to many. But now everyone has had enough. People have banded together to achieve a single aim; deny BN the 2/3 majority it has held for decades. In each individual's mind, the aim was simple and clear. If they vote for the opposition, there will be a chance. If they don't, then nothing might happen at all. A simple aim, but collectively, it's absolutely amazing how this has translated into such immense power and influence. The sum of all parts is definitely greater that its components. I think now Malaysians have realized that as citizens we hold real power, that we can decide who we want our leaders to be, and that we can influence and make changes for a better future. As we come of age, we must also mature and learn to use that power effectively and wisely.

Power of the media
Besides the swing of votes, the one other thing that has changed tremendously this time around is the access to media. Where previously we relied solely on the television and newspapers, the campaigning and results were largely dominated by text messaging and the internet. In fact, the results were circulating throughout the technosphere much faster than traditional media. While BN were very visible on the papers with their achievements, the opposition were in my opinion much more savvy, using the internet to its fullest potential while still reaching the masses with their ceramahs. With the proliferation of blogs, webmail, social networking sites and instant messaging, the opposition had the power to reach out to so many potential voters that traditional media can't. Coupled with the fact that the more tech savvy voters out there are of the younger generation who are better educated, I think this made another decisive factor in the results. This generation is more exposed to world issues than ever before, and they are more opinionated as a result. They will not take mere words and marketing blindly when it comes to political issues. The new generation of voters is a completely different beast, and I think BN has failed to realize that fact.

Power to act
The coalition now has the muscle to push for real change and voice out the plight of the public. They now have the power to ensure transparency, improve welfare and do away with corruption. No doubt, all these are not issues to be resolved overnight, but there have been some encouraging indicators with the push for open tenders and a Freedom of Information Act. Let's hope that there will be better news to come. The coalition has been elected by the people to be their proxy; a chance to act on their behalf ; a chance to walk the talk. If they do it right, the people will continue to support the cause and be right behind them. Else, we will just be back to square one in the next elections.

Now is the time for the coalition to prove themselves to be the right choice. It is time for real work and real battles to begin; the elections is just a start. It won't be easy, with no shortage of obstacles and it will be a big responsibility. But that's what you get with power.

Syabas Malaysia, and all the best to the stewards of a new dawn!

1 comment:

Eliora said...

Thanks for writing this.