The 13-day campaign for the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections are over and it is for the 32,632 voters in Kuala Kangsar and 42,365 voters in Sungai Besar to decide the outcome of the two historic by-elections today.
For the past two weeks, I had been shuttling between Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, and it is my hope that on the 50th anniversary of my political work in Malaysia, I can get a big present – a historic and miraculous victory in the Kuala Kangsar and/or Sungai Besar by-elections.
Can we “write history, create miracle” today?
I confess to be disheartened by a good round-up article in Malay Mail Online, “As poll looms, Sungai Besar voters ask: Should I bother?” by its reporter, A. Ruban, quoting several voters who were staunch supporters of the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat in two minds about casting their ballots in the Sungai Besar by-election.
Ruban wrote: “Disenchanted with the infighting within the opposition ranks yet spurning Barisan Nasional (BN), both residents and registered voters living outside the Selangor parliamentary seat said they either can’t decide who to vote for, or may just skip polling altogether.”
These “disenchanted voters” expressed being “fed up with what has been going on in Pakatan”, expressing the sentiments: “I am definitely not voting BN, so let’s see how it goes… if I am free, I will go vote, or else I will just stay home”.
They felt Pakatan should get its act together if it wanted to be taken seriously about government change, complaining that the PKR-DAP-PAS pact known as Pakatan Rakyat that was later replaced by the Pakatan Harapan partnership comprising Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) with PKR and DAP, was a simple name change.
One anonymous voter complained that Pakatan is in “shambles” and he would rather wait for the 14th general election due just two years away to cast his vote, when he could get to vote for the state seat as well.
I fully agree with complainants who want the Pakatan Harapan to get its act together and there is merit in many of the dissatisfactions about the state of Pakatan Harapan politics today.
But I cannot agree with any voter, whether in Sungai Besar or Kuala Kangsar, throwing his or her vote away because of the lack of ideal conditions in Opposition politics – or I should have thrown in my towel in Malaysian politics long ago, not having to undergo two terms of Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions, countless court prosecutions (including the Official Secrets Act) and political persecutions (including 50 years of demonisation by the UMNO/BN print, electronic and social media), see my son sent to jail and losing his parliamentary status and forfeiting his parliamentary pension for standing up for the honour and dignity of an underaged Malay girl, and countless tests, trials and tribulations for an united, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous Malaysia for all her citizenry, regardless of race, religion or region.
It is not enough just to wait for the 14th General Election although it it just two years down the road, as what happens in the two by-elections today will have far-reaching implications and consequences not only for Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, but also for Malaysian politics and governance as a whole.
Although both the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections cannot materially change the respective parliamentary numbers and strength of the political parties, a defeat by UMNO in the sixty-year-old UMNO traditional stronghold of Sungai Besar and/or Kuala Kangsar would have a traumatic effect which will affect the future of Datuk Seri Najib Razak as Prime Minister – whether immediately, in the next 24 months or during the 14th General Election by 2018.
In fact, a defeat for UMNO in Sungai Besar and/or Kuala Kangsar will be world news and make history for by-elections in Malaysia, for it would tally with international perceptions and sentiments about the1MDB global scandal hounding and haunting the Malaysian Prime Minister and government, and a clear signal that even Malaysians in semi-rural areas are not politically apathetic or unconcerned about global scandals, good governance and the great questions of right and wrong in public affairs as many had thought.
Even more important, a defeat for UMNO will a powerful message that Malaysians are prepared for the next stage of the nation’s political development – for Malaysia to become a normal democratic country where voters can change the government peacefully and democratically through the ballot box like other mature democracies without inviting national catastrophes.
In the past 60 years, there has been six democratic and peaceful change of government in the Untied Kingdom, but not a single time in Malaysia. Even Philippine and Indonesia have more democratic traditions and practices than Malaysia, as Filipinos and Indonesians can use the ballot bbx to change the party or political coalition in power without any national disaster or calamities.
If UMNO/BN wins in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections, it will cause no surprises as these had been UMNO/BN strongholds for six decades. Malaysian politics and governance will see “more of the same”.
But an AMANAH/Pakatan Harapan victory in Kuala Kangsar and/or Sungai Besar will be of such historic and miraculous magnitude that it will usher great political changes culminating in the 14th General Elections by 2018.
It is still not too late for every voter, especially outside Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, to make the historic trip home to vote in the two most important by-elections in nation’s history.