Friday, May 3, 2013

A Tale of 2 Citizens

"A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life.."

As May 5th draws near, you can feel the "heat" everywhere you go. A sea of blue, white and red flags have blanketed my beautiful island. Supporters from each side have upped the ante and comments, criticism and facebook posts have been flying about like a high school food fight.

Normally, I would stay out of this by giving my two cents worth only to those who are close. It's not that I'm afraid. I would refrain from making any comments publicly for fear of it being viewed or thought of as insulting because I have friends and acquaintances from various backgrounds and ethnicity which I value very much. But a certain FB status from a friend recently stuck out like a sore thumb. It was, in a way, insulting. But the thing that struck me behind that post was how ignorant she was & how the situation has been manipulated to incite fear and hatred.

Why am I speaking out now? 

Simple: I love my country. I love everything about it. It's food. It's ethnic diversity. It's culture. I like having friends from different backgrounds and visiting them during festivals. I like hanging out at my favorite mamak stall. I like the fact that we can sit and chat despite our differences in color and religion. That's what we need to defend.

So I'll tell it as I see it, and this may not go down well with everyone.. for that I apologize.

In recent weeks, since the announcement, we have seen so many "ceramah" from all parties. I've been to a few, I've heard from both sides. The current coalition promotes stability and track record at the forefront of its’ campaign. Nobody can deny that in the 55 years since we've achieved independence, our country has developed under their leadership. But it amazes me then when their candidates and coalition leaders are resorting to race-based scare tactics to win over voters. One says that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS. Another says that if PR wins, the rights of my Muslim brothers and sisters will not be protected. Is that really necessary? Is it even true? Especially more so in a multi-cultural country like ours where a Chinese man is happy to eat at a Malay stall with his Indian counterpart – just like me! They speak of protecting rights. But what are they really protecting? - Our rights or their privileges?

The last year or so have seen massive changes and developments in the country. Then why are the rakyat, or a part of it, is insisting for a change? Is it because too many "coincidences" have happened? Is it because some want a fair and equal opportunity to success? Is it because the rakyat are fed up of the cronyism? Whatever the reasons, the wave of change or “UBAH” is picking up speed very fast. Take Penang for instance. Beautiful island, great food, historically rich as it is diversified. But why offer us a Free Port status now? It’s great news for Penang with all the benefits it will bring. Better late than never, some might say. However, will the Federal Government, if it happens to be BN, continue to grant us this privilege even if the state government happens to be from the Opposition? True development starts with equal treatment and the sincerity to serve.

This election is not a battle of races. It's not about the winning party infringing on your rights as a citizen. It shouldn’t be so. For me, if your constituency's rep is not effective, then vote him/her out. Give another candidate a chance. It's not about which party he or she is from. Malaysia was born from the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of all our forefathers who marched hand-in-hand, from the poor Malay farmer to the struggling Chinese trader to the Indian labourer that came here to seek better opportunities. They laid down their lives to protect this country and made it great because they wanted a land they can call their home, and that still continues to this day. But many have forgotten this. I hope you have not.

So this coming GE, cast aside your prejudices, and vote from the heart. And whatever results it may bring, let us embrace it & work together towards a better future not just for ourselves, but for future generations to come, just like what our forefathers did for us.

Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has. Use that freedom. Make your own choice.

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