Being in Penang on 10th May was indeed a new day!
People voted for Pakatan Harapan (Hope Alliance) and overnight, the 60/61 year stronghold of Barisan Nasional (National Front) was brought down.
The component parties of Pakatan Harapan are Democratic Action Party(DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
Member parties of BN include United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (GERAKAN), People’s Progressive Party (myPPP),United Sabah Party (PBS), Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).
Of special note is UMNO, MCA, and MIC. These three parties represented the major races in Malaysia at the time of Independence. UMNO focused on the Malays and as it gained support from the Malays, the party was able to garner votes and it was always a big do when it came to the UMNO general assembly and party elections. There would be television coverage at Putra World Trade Centre and the UMNO Wanita group would also be present together with UMNO Youth. There would be bazaars where people could present their goods and all in all, it was THE place to be seen.
As a young child, I would watch the live coverage on TV and I would wonder how glamorous it was to be there. I did not understand politics but it mattered to my family members who wanted to know who is the next president of UMNO and the deputy president. I asked why and the answer simply was the president of UMNO would be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. His deputy would be the Deputy Prime Minister.
As the years went by, I began to see that a lot of things were happening around me. There was a shift in language studies where we only had one English subject and all other subjects were in Bahasa Malaysia. That was a transition year when all textbooks were no longer in English. I struggled with Bahasa and needless to say, didn’t master the language. When it was time for me to go to university, I met with a quota system that did not look on merit. Fortunately for me, my mom was able to support me to study in a private college where I obtained a diploma in IT. After that, I was able to get a job and be financially independent.
I read about Felda schemes on the mainland and the mushrooming of electronic factories in Penang in the early 1980s and the building of the First Bridge linking Penang Island to Seberang Prai in 1985. There was a lot of development in those years in Penang. Throughout Malaysia, there were jobs available in Kuala Lumpur and the major cities were thriving. Then came talk of young people leaving Malaysia for overseas. This trend moved my three siblings to New Zealand and Australia. They felt then that the Chinese were sidelined and they wanted greener pastures.
I saw Prime Ministers like Dr Mahathir, then Abdullah Badawi, then Najib Razak. I can’t help but look at the rallies that took place beginning in 2007 under Bersih, Bersih 2.0, and Bersih 3.0. Bersih was a statement to the Election Commission for a fair and clean election. In itself, I think people turned up to show their angst at what was happening with 1MDB, TH, Felcra, MARA; fund misappropriation that no one gave any explanation for.
In a strange twist, Dr Mahathir, in one of his speeches told about the dangers that UMNO would face due to greed and power. The party would lose its position as the strongest party by 2020. This video is 20 years old.
Ucapan Tun Mahathir 20 tahun yang lampau, sekarang menjadi kenyataan.
Before the elections, on 2nd May 2018, we gathered together with other Christians to pray for Malaysia. In one of the meetings, we were told to forgive Dr Mahathir for the things that happened in his tenure as the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia. There were opposition leaders who were imprisoned under ISA like Lim Guan Eng and Mat Sabu. Anwar Ibrahim was put into jail in 1999. All these came to my mind but as we prayed to forgive Dr Mahathir, I felt that God was looking at my heart. This is a personal thing and I chose to forgive him for the events that happened. In a way, this helped me to pray that he would be the catalyst to turn the hearts of the voters towards a new government.
And that night, 9th May, I slept early knowing that we all went to the polls, had our day in “court.”