“What made it worse was the fact that I couldn’t vote; I wasn’t eligible yet.”
Cerita Undi by Teh I-Vern.
When I heard the announcement that Polling Day was on a Wednesday, what I felt at first was just utter disdain. I knew it meant that the chances of a change of government had slipped. It was another obstacle put in place by those that wished to stay in power at all cost. First the Fake News Bill, then redelineation and finally, the setting of Polling Day in the middle of the week, which could only mean trying to keep voter turnout low for the coming GE14.
I felt utterly useless and that I could do nothing to help, especially when my friends and I had to face the demon named Exam. What made it worse was the fact that I couldn’t vote; I wasn’t eligible yet. The first paper was literally 2 days after GE14. I heard that some had to sit for their paper the very next day.
In the months, weeks and finally days leading up to the election, my whole family was doing as much as they could to contribute. My Mom and Sis both became PACA and my Dad had been helping out in distributing flyers and leaflets, spreading the word about our favoured political party. All the more did I feel helpless as all I could do was stay at home and read massive textbooks and memorise things.
As the historic day drew closer, more ceramahs and rallies were being held and I felt the urge to just go and lend my support, but ultimately, the reality was that Exams were coming and nothing was going to change that. Thus, I was still confined to my books, notes and trusty laptop.
On that fateful day, I realised that the most I could do was spread word of any malpractices that could be taking place. For example, when I heard that some ballot papers had no official stamps (Later in the day however, it turned out that it was due to the admitted incompetence of the EC). I couldn’t study at all and I spent the entire day keeping up with the news, constantly checking for updates. As 5PM drew closer, one by one polling stations were closed. Reports of people still lining up to vote even after hours of waiting started to surface. Then the EC refused to extend the polling times and again, another obstacle was put in place to ensure power remained with those who wished to keep it.
As evening turned into night, slowly the tally counter on MalaysiaKini’s Live GE14 Updates page started rising. BN had an early lead, then PH started catching up. The pressure was mounting and the tension in the air was greater than when Lee Chong Wei was up against Lin Dan in the Olympics. Suddenly, unofficial reports came in saying that the Parliamentary Seat of Semporna in Sabah (a BN stronghold) had been won by Warisan. At that moment, I knew something momentous was going to happen. BN managed to maintain it’s lead on the tally counter but I refused to believe they had won. Reports coming in were mostly in favour of PH and the tally counter was just not adding up with the incoming reports. BN’s lead slowly became smaller and smaller. My Whatsapp was lighting up, ding after ding after ding. Notifications came in from my whatsapp group talking about what was going on. Eventually, PH took the lead and my friends and I could hardly believe it. We were afraid of another huge upset like the one in GE13 and so we tried out level best to manage our expectations. Yet, as time went on, PH’s lead extended further and wider; our expectations along with it.
As the number of seats won by PH drew closer to that magic number ‘112’, the possibility of a change in government started to materialise. Finally, Mahathir announced that PH had achieved a simple majority and had won more than the required 112 Parliamentary seats. The delay of the EC kept my friends and I up all night, well past 3 AM. We finally called it a day when PH held a press conference declaring that they had won and there could be no way of disputing it.
They next day, I woke up knowing that Malaysia had the opportunity to rebuild itself. The era of transparency and actual democracy had now come. The mainstream media could now become a credible source of information. My friends and I realised that Malaysia could now have a brighter future and we could all be a part of it.
Although my friends and I are barely in our 20s, most of us are aware that the very person who got us into the mess we were in in the first place, was the very person the Rakyat had just recently made Prime Minister. However, we knew it was for the best. Tun Dr Mahathir was surrounded by politicians who have proven their worth and integrity. We knew they would keep him in check should things go awry. We also knew Malaysians would do their part in keeping an eye on the new government and making sure that they are accountable to us.
We have a long way to go before Malaysia can rebuild itself and become the rising star that it once was. The best thing I can do right now is to do my part by being a responsible Malaysian citizen and look past race and religion by embracing our differences. This is what makes Malaysia unique. GE14 has shown me that Malaysians that can rise up and unite in the face of adversity. We now have a shot at a better future, let us not waste this opportunity that Malaysians have fought for. Let GE14 be added to our history books and be known as the day Malaysians came together as one.
Cover image: Hitoribocchi, Flickr