Taking Chances

— Christine SK Lai
The Malay Mail Online
June 02, 2014

JUNE 2 — So after all the analysis, post-mortems and opinions, where does it leave us? Everyone has their favourite theory on why Dyana Sofya lost in Teluk Intan.

But that’s not really the issue, or is it? In fact I am pretty sure there are many who will ask ‘Dyana who?’ despite the fact that she has catapulted to celebrity status and is everyone’s fave target for group selfies. Outside of Teluk Intan, I hazard a guess that there are probably many who don’t even know there was an election there. There is such a thing called ignorance, apathy, indifference, complacency — all same category. But I am not pointing fingers, I hasten to confess I am guilty of all that at some time or another.

When I first saw that pretty young face splattered all over on-line news ( there is no denying she is pretty and she is young), mentally I saluted the old man behind her — it takes foresight and guts to do what Lim Kit Siang did, pushing this novice up the way he did, and kudos to the party who dared take a chance to lose. I have to admit though I was a bit tired of all the politicking that seems to be going into over-drive not only in the small town of Teluk Intan but seemingly every where, and not just during a by-election but almost every other day. One time it’s why only certain people can call God a certain name. The next it’s hudud. Then it’s chocolates. Wonder what it will be tomorrow. And oh by the way, it’s not confined to the peculiar species called politicians. NGOs, bloggers, big shots, small shots… everyone can say anything and everything is fair game. Guess that’s the price of democracy. So I kind-of ‘tune off’ these days. It’s very easy to grow tired of it all. Like I said, apathy…

Still I had harboured a little hope for Teluk Intan and for Dyana. I had hoped that people (not just voters) would see beyond the prettiness of the face (sex), the inexperience of youth (age), the colour of her skin (race), the matter of her faith (religion), even the careful and obvious ‘management ‘ of her stage personality (drama) by her mentors. I had hoped Malaysians would be mature enough to see it isn’t about Teluk Intan or Dyana per see. It’s really about how much we are willing to walk the talk of being a Malaysian in spirit and in truth.

If we cannot (or will not) see that Dyana is but the personification of what 1Malaysia should be, then we are still very much chained to the invisible shackles of our own race, colour, religion and self-interests, no matter how loudly we deny it. An astute reporter terms it aptly as the elephant in the room (I would say there’s definitely more than one elephant) that everyone pretends not to see, much less talk about. If we are still thinking wait till GE14, then we have missed the point — that making a difference starts today. If we are minded to be ‘pragmatic’ about cashing in on the obvious advantages of experience and ‘right’ connections to meet our own needs (which are real and undeniable), then we can forget about giving the next generation a chance… to make mistakes, to be groomed and to take over the future. If that be the case, can we at least be honest enough to admit we are the ones who fail ourselves and ‘our’ Malaysia? In which case, to put it quite bluntly, we deserve all (the trouble) we get.

Personally, it’s not the loss of votes for a political party’s candidate that saddens me. It’s the fact that Teluk Intan shows we are not ready or maybe we just don’t want to grow up because we prefer not to take chances that could jeopardise our own precious lives. There’s a saying that goes ‘no pain, no gain’. It’s simple enough; if we don’t take chances, we will never know what we are capable of. It’s a little bit like believing in God; we will never know He is for real and He is good until we choose to trust — and continue to trust — that He is, no matter that it appears dumb, risky or even troublesome to do so.

Some people term Teluk Intan as a ‘social experiment’ gone wrong and Dyana as just a ‘flash in the pan’. Over and done with. If that’s our attitude, then we are guilty of being plain selfish and extremely short-sighted since it means we only live for ourselves for today. But I like to think all is not lost; there is always room for hope. There was only a difference of 238 votes. As one party politician puts it, this one battle may be lost for now, but there’s still a war that can be won. I agree there will be many more battles to fight. But unlike him, I am not talking about votes in the next by-election… I am praying starting today, all over this nation, there will arise people who can and will dare to take chances beyond ourselves, to live lives that actually demonstrate the slogans we all like to shout out, to bury the ‘elephants’ stalking Malaysians once and for all.

  1. #1 by RakishAngle on Monday, 2 June 2014 - 8:24 pm

    The previous election had been won by a practically no-name DAP candidate with a majority of over 7,000 votes. DAP’s candidate in this by-election had almost rock-star status and yet she lost albeit with a razor-thin margin. This is indeed surprising as it was widely expected that Dyana would retain the seat comfortably for DAP and her margin of victory was expected to be in excess of 10,000; she was definitely more popular than the previous DAP member of parliament. So it was a shock that Dyana lost but it was only slightly less shocking that DAP did not demand a recount and indeed a full investigation in view of the narrow margin of victory. Is the DAP now trying to play the role of the gentlemanly loser; the party is certainly coy about its new game plan. Is Dyana being sacrificed so that the DAP can peddle its new interest in being a good guy in Malaysian politics. Surely the party’s representatives would have detected the hanky-panky, the stuffed ballot boxes and other misdemeanors that plague the political process in Malaysia; all happening with the connivance of the Elections Commission which is widely and cynically seen as nothing more than an apparatus of the UMNO-BN machinery.

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