How BN lost this fencesitting voter: Open letter to PM

Daniel Tan | May 8, 2012

I am your average Joe in my late 40’s, living a comfortable life in a quiet suburban part of KL. I call myself a political atheist with no particular inclination to any political party.

You can call me a fencesitter or a middle ground voter. In the last 20 years of my voting life, I have always voted based on issues, swinging my votes between BN and the opposition depending on the hot issues of the day.

I voted BN in 2004, giving your coalition a massive mandate post-Mahathir and the reverberating message of ‘Change’ espoused by your predecessor.

And when the message remained just a message, four years on, I voted for the opposition, and what followed is history.

I understand you are trying very hard to court people like me and I supposed all this alphabet in the soup monikers – ETP, GTP, NEM, etc. are part of your big strategy to win urban voters like me.

Honestly, I am not sure I am thoroughly convinced.

I will let you know why.

Deep down in my gut, I am not sure whether your message of transformation is real or not.

And even if you are sincere, I am not sure whether your party Umno is behind you or not. You see, Dato Seri, we bunch of urbanites are a whole lot of skeptics.

I am aware you are trying to change, modify or remove old archaic laws like OSA, Printing Press & Publication law, Assembly law, etc, in time for the general election.

All that seems good only on paper. Yes, some part of the draconian laws are repealed but they are half measures at best.

Worse, the new revised laws are harsher with many punitive clauses opening the possibility for abuse.

You see, many of us are educated overseas or have worked outside the country – in short, we are fairly connected to what’s happening around the world.

Through the internet and our network of friends around the world, we know about concepts like a free press, freedom of assembly, rule of law, etc – so giving the old furniture a shine on its veneer without removing the termite infested part, is not going to excite us very much.

So on Apr 28, I decided to walk for the first time for Bersih. I was never part of Bersih 1.0 and 2.0 as I was not clear what was the message of Bersih in the first place.

The last thing I wanted was to be used as pawn by any political party.

But Bersih 3.0’s message was very clear to me. After Bersih 2.0 , I followed closely the development on the demands of Bersih to EC, the formation of PSC, etc.

I was stumped over and over again at how your Election Commission brushed off allegations of dubious voters, and its non-committal response to clean up the voting process – I made my conclusion that EC and your coalition BN were never serious about electoral reform in the first place.

To be in Bersih 3.0, was a very big step for me as a political atheist. I just wanted to be there, to feel the environment and be part of something good for the country.

Who doesn’t want a clean and fair election, let alone you the prime minister, who had been quoted more than once that you, too, want a clean election and not win by fraud.

So how bad can Bersih 3.0 be? (Although friends did warn me that violence may happen.)

How wrong (or naïve?) I was.

The violence I witnessed from 3pm onwards that day, completely put me off. Never in my mind, I imagined our police could be so cruel and inhuman as to attack the rakyat who were there just to be part of the nation’s aspiration for a clean election.

To witness the beatings with my own eyes, made it even more painful.

I was spared from bodily harm but my heart is hurt. Hurt for thinking we had a caring government and a responsive prime minister.

All completely vanished in the smoke of the tear gas.

I walked home with only one resolution – that I will give my vote to the federal opposition and this is one middle ground vote that BN lost on that fateful day.

  1. #1 by KeenWatcher_01 on Thursday, 10 May 2012 - 8:15 am

    Daniel, you have woken up. It is hard if you did not see it or involved yourself in Bersih 3.0. Once again, Bersih 3.0 has been very successful in waking up a lot more Daniels. I hope, Daniel, you could spread the words to ensure all your families, friends and loved ones vote wisely comes GE13. Good Luck!

  2. #2 by monsterball on Thursday, 10 May 2012 - 8:40 am

    Daniel…yes you need to convince your friends and relatives…what you witnessed and experienced.
    Your friends and relatives …will be more convinced than listening others.
    Najib will cheat to win the 13th GE.
    Just look at the 5 chosen to probe the incidents…headed by ex IGP Haniff Omar.
    It’s non stop stage shows with conclusions….we all know…what it is.
    Najib intends to win 13th GE or find a way…not to have it at all.
    To win…he must cheat.
    Not to have it at all..he must have riots…clashes…houses and cars burning.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 10 May 2012 - 9:00 am

    It is good to have your support. But for consistency sake pls stick to one stand. LKS held on to his principles for decades. In those times DAP suffered several punishing defeats. Nevertheless LKS continued to push ahead. Today we are seeing a real possibility of two party system. Come on, Let us all make that a reality. Boot umno out of putrajaya in GE13. We must do it with a thumping victory for otherwise umno might not want to vacate its seat there. Then there will be uncertainty and chaos.

  4. #4 by Winston on Thursday, 10 May 2012 - 10:05 am

    One thing must be very clear to all voters.
    All those in UMNO/BN are in it for the gravy train.
    So, anyone who thinks that he doesn’t want to be part of it has no place in the organisation.
    So, to think that any so-called straight guy may be part of it is just wishful thinking!
    For decades, this party has been promising one thing and then did the exact opposite.
    It’s still on-going but with a vengeance this time with complete brazen disregard for public reaction.
    In fact, Malaysians have been living on false promises all these decades that UMNO/BN has been holding the reins of the government.
    Anyone who is discerning would have dumped them eons ago!!!

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Thursday, 10 May 2012 - 2:35 pm

    I will be the first time voter come GE13.With each day passing,i’ve come to witness or read all sort of ugly events done or condone by the federal government.This has made me more determined to give my vote to the opposition.I hope with my one vote combined with many other more-we will see the change we so desire.I will do my part as i’ve been doing now-to spread words to friends,relatives and even acquaintance(malays included).ABU!ABU!ABU!

  6. #6 by balance88 on Friday, 11 May 2012 - 10:27 am

    Well Daniel, sure took you a long time to wake up. In Malaysia, you cannot vote base on issues simply because of our electoral system and the method of governance. In places like the US, you can because elected officials need to fulfill their election promises (even that not all promises are fulfilled) if not they will not get re-elected. Moreover, here, issues are orchestrated and played up by the ruling BN just to retain power.

    In M’sia, politicians seek election not to serve the people but to enrich themselves. Look and ask around you and you will know that there are many cases of politicians who gain overnight wealth through dealership, petrol stations, and all sorts of business ventures after serving less than 1 term. They like to be seen as serving the people but in reality, are serving themselves. Of course there are a few who really worked for the people but these are just a handful.

    So, you should be voting for the future of our next generation. Forget about issues when the basic tenets of democracy are not even in place and implemented. Its time we change and see how the opposition performs. Thereafter we can alternate the government between various parties if we have to. Who knows, the grass may be greener on the other side. If we do not make the move to the other side, we may never know.

    I believe no party, president or prime minister should be in power for a long long time as it leads to arrogance and autocracy.

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