“I will not just be a voter in this election, I will put my money, time and effort to help change happen.”
Cerita Undi by Kit Chung.
The Malaysian Spirit Awakens
GE14 is momentous, not only because we made history, but more importantly we rediscovered our shared identity and redefined what it means to be proudly and fiercely Malaysians.
Like most Malaysians, I did not have hope for change to happen through the ballot box. But unlike most Malaysians, I did believe that change will come within my lifetime, unexpectedly like when the Berlin wall fell.
Attending a PACA training (right after Parliament was dissolved in early April) confirmed that the controls of the voting process had been loosened to facilitate blatant cheating. This was on top of the hasty delineation exercise and Fake News Act. That gnawed at my innate sense of fairness. If they could win fair and square, fine. But it was not ok with me if they won by cheating.
When SPR announced a Wednesday voting day, Malaysians spontaneously pitched in to help fellow Malaysians overcome the difficulties of going home to vote. My thought was ‘Oh! It is happening, change is happening!’ I was galvanised into action. I will not just be a voter in this election, I will put my money, time and effort to help change happen.
Taking a Leaf from Bersih – Fair Election for ALL
And so, my personal campaign strategies crystalised:
- Send as many young people home as possible. Especially the underprivileged Malays. As Malays votes swing were crucial, sending the young back to their kampungs to both cast their votes and influence their folks seemed like a no brainer. In addition, Malaysian helping Malaysian, regardless of race, with our hard-earned (not stolen) money, would neutralise fear-based racial messages the government of the day was spreading.
- Educate as many people as possible about the voting process so that they were vigilant. I encouraged everybody to go for PACA training, called older folks to tell them what to do and checked everyone’s voter registration. Please, please make sure your own vote is counted. At every meeting with friends, I postulated the importance of voting properly. I shamelessly bombarded everyone I know with messages.
Helping the Young #PulangMengundi
I first put a small sum into #undirabu which was just someone’s personal bank account. At that point, I just trusted that they would do what they said they would and the bank account was the right one.
Then I started to follow the stories and developments on Twitter. There were many generous souls who were helping in every ways, including sponsoring directly.
Slowly, I noticed that there were more people needing help than sponsors. While #undirabu was working very hard, they simply couldn’t keep up with the demand. They were beginning to shut out requests. Impressive as they were, they are also humans.
I decided to sponsor directly by buying the plane tickets. Just for that, I learned how to set up and use a Twitter account. And once I started, more asked me directly for help. Since my budget was only for 2 persons, I begged my family and friends to help out. Most were willing, as long as I did the work of finding the recipients and buying the tickets. So, I used the credit cards and funds of friends and family to send 10 more home. One of them by the skin of her teeth… we managed to buy her a ticket on May 8 to fly home on May 9! If I had had more time, more friends were willing to put money in…
Meanwhile, my sister in Warsaw was inspired to sponsor a couple directly and she in turn got her Malaysian friend there to sponsor 4 more. Another friend sent someone from her church back to Sabah when she found out he was not going due to financial constraints.
This is multiplier effect working!
Being a PACA
By now, watching social media, reading non-main stream news and attending rallies, I was pretty sure that if the election were fair, PH was going to win. I truly believed the impossible can happen.
Still, I had not intended to become a PACA – maybe there are many already, they won’t need me…
About 12 days before the election, urgent pleas were sent through WA groups for more PACAs. It was obvious I could not chicken out no matter how busy my work schedule was. I called the person for PJ since that’s where I am living. She asked where I would be voting. I replied, Klang. “Then go to Klang, every constituency still needs PACAs”, she urged, “please call DAP Klang”. I looked up DAP’s number online, called and got the mobile number of the person in charge. He sent me a webpage to register. I did.
I waited and waited. Not sure if they needed me (still hoping they didn’t, haha). A message came… to attend more training in Klang and go for assignment meeting on the Sunday before voting Wednesday. On a working Monday night, I trotted back down to Klang to attend team training – in an office space which someone kindly offered to the 2 teams who had joint training.
Kinda cutting it close, aren’t you?…. Later I realised why they did that. It was not only because organising 500 odd people was not easy, it was also because last minute assignment was done so that the PACAs do not know their stations, giving people who might try to bribe them very little time to do so.
My team and team leader are awesome. Despite barely knowing one another, the spirit was strong. No one could have bullied us. We knew our rights and had the strength to stand up to whatever SPR was up to. The team stayed to see through the entire process, off duty ones giving moral and logistics support to those on duty. No one accepted the allowance offered (which was donated by a generous Malaysian) … we gave every time we went for rallies, why would we be taking now?
My station was in a PH safe seat area. Even then, we had the dramas of KTMs refusing to sign the Form 14s. I did not get home till past 11pm and crashed out. The following morning, WAs from my family and friends came thanking me for being a PACA.
Much has been said about Tun Mahathir wining this election. Yes he did. Without him, we could not have done it. Credits should go where credits are due.
But there were also grassroots initiatives cumulating in a perfect storm with Tun Mahathir and civil movements. How strangers helped and inspired one other. All knowing that individually, we could not have made a difference but collectively… The idea behind ‘every vote counts’ extended to every action counts, every sen counts… do what you can and have faith in your fellow Malaysians who will do what they can too.
And that is why BN cannot fathom what hit them. For them cash is king. Only money talks and only money moves their people. How can they even imagine what motivated true blue Malaysians? Everyone offered what they can – time, expertise, money, shared space, food, incentives for voting etc, all without asking for anything back except that we do right by our country. We have a shared destiny. Money cannot buy that kind of power.
In this election, Malaysia not only saved her soul, she reclaimed her sprit. Now, Malaysia… truly boleh.
I am Malaysian.
Kit Chung, Klang/PJ
2 June, 2018