My thoughts on the recently concluded 13th General Elections 2013.
The people have spoken. The ruling party returned to power albeit a lesser one than the 12th GE. 133 seats against 89. I’ve waited for 2 days, to let the irrational side of me calm down first.
The campaign slogan for the Opposition was ‘Change’ (Ubah) and ‘This Is It’ (Ini Kalilah), everyone was waiting for the appropriate moment to make a change, and that day was 5th of May. Unprecedented voter turnouts of over 80% was recorded at almost every polling station all across the country. From the rural areas right up to the urban areas.
The returning government had labelled the Opposition rode on the wave of a ‘Chinese tsunami’, putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ungrateful Chinese, who were mostly from the urban constituencies. The official results showed that almost all of the urban areas across the country fell to the Opposition. Popular votes were also won by the Opposition, 50.8% against 47.3%.
I woke up early on what was supposed to be a day of hope, this was the second time that I have voted, having took part in the first ‘tsunami’ of the 12th General Elections 2008. All dressed up in yellow, signifying the call for a clean and fair election (Bersih). I made my way to the polling station located 2km away from my house, while the rest of my family voted just across the street. To my surprise, there were about 50 people waiting in line to vote, as compared to about 10 back in 2008. Everyone was smiling and the weather was fine.
Due to last year’s rally by Bersih, the Election Commission finally agreed to the usage of the indelible ink, a first for the country. Although they failed to agree to the other 7 recommendations by Bersih, amongst them, cleaning up the electoral roll, allowing equal airtime through the mass media, etc. All voters were marked on their left index finger with the ink before voting.
Those with social presence online immediately updated their statuses with the marked finger. Then came the first of what would be a series of blows to the initial hopes of a better government. The ink came off easily at several centres throughout the country. Back at home, Dad’s ink came off with some soap and water, while the rest of us didn’t, but even so, it was mostly concentrated underneath the nails. Some even reported that theirs came off by rubbing with grass or by cleaning with a detergent.
Polling was from 8am to 5pm, there was nothing much we could do. I spent most of the time checking online reports about ‘phantom voters’, people who lost their chance to vote as their names were actually marked as having voted earlier in the day and of reports that busloads ferrying illegal immigrants chaperoned by our police officers trying to make their way to the voting centers.
The wait was finally over at 7pm, as news start to trickle in. With my eyes trained on the ticker tape reports on the bottom half of the TV screen, while the people on the screen drone on and on about stability, offering their half-baked opinions about the voting patterns and what-not. Most of the results shown were of the ruling government, while we waited with baited breath for reports of an Opposition win. Online media was going crazy with Opposition wins in many of the heavyweight fights and in some, neck-to-neck race to the finish line.
As the night wore on, our hopes finally dimmed as one by one, the seats fell to the ruling government. Recounting of previously Opposition-held seats, inexplicably showed that the ruling government had won. The bad news was finally delivered at 10 minutes to 1 in the morning. The Election Commissioner announced that the ruling government had finally achieve the simple majority of 112 seats, with a smirk.
Reports from the last two days after the General Election saw a huge swing in the popular votes towards the Opposition. But due to gerrymandering, it did not equate with the same number of seats. The Opposition immediately boycotted the win, unless and until the Election Commission could come up with their explanation on the various fraudulent practices and suspicion of illegal immigrants being allowed to vote. To date, the Election Commission had kept mum, except for showing their stupidity by announcing that the indelible ink was ‘watered down’ in order to comply with the practice of ablution by the majority of the community.
We lost out on the reduction of petrol prices within 24 hours.
We lost the 20% royalty promised to the oil-producing states.
We lost the right to purchase cheaper cars without the excise duties.
We lost out on free education right up to the tertiary level.
We lost out on toll-free highways.
We lost a better future for the next generation.
We lost the battle to end corruption and cronyism.