DEC 20 — I dare say that 2011 has been a very interesting year for Malaysia, at least with regards to its political landscape. With a string of events, magnified by the power of social media, mobilisation of Malaysian youths as well as the partial acceptance by the veterans that the youth of today now have a microphone; all these have made 2011 a significant year for Malaysia, either on its own, or in the context of the five years to come.
So what will 2012 hold? Let us take some amateur guesses.
Next year, when the 13th general election will most probably happen, will definitely be crucial with regards to our political landscape.
One, because it will end four years of ultimate political games, not only between political parties, but also between the current government and its voters, with all the promises to reform as well as tense conflict involving religion, races and, most usually, human rights.
Two, because there are many more stakeholders who are aware and inquisitive about the election, as homecoming youths make up a big portion of the voters’ pool. For the first time, fully amplified by the efficient usage of social media, this election will most probably be the most anticipated, scrutinised and accountable one in our country’s history, at least informally, made so by its citizens. Its young citizens.
Three, the last but definitely the most important one, is the fact that Malaysia will need an elected government strong enough to manoeuvre our “ibu pertiwi” to take charge of the rise of Southeast Asia in this very gloomy global situation. Not too strong as we all know that these Malaysian politicians sometimes become too “clumsy” when the mandate is too wide, but not too weak that nothing can be passed despite the neverending debates in Parliament.
Whatever it is, whichever side you are on, the results from this election will shape Malaysia for the next few years. It goes without saying that if Pakatan Rakyat wins federal power, our political scene will definitely change. On the other hand, if the status quo regains a wider mandate than what it now holds, the integrity of the election will be held up to question by certain quarters.
Therefore, it is crucial that our election system is reformed before the next general election happens. For Pakatan Rakyat, it is a morale booster before the machinery enters the campaigning period. For the ruling party, to rubberstamp whatever mandate it earns if it maintains power in the federal government. For the “rakyat”, it is to feed the massive hunger of actually having the power of democracy.
The year 2011 is also very significant with regards to the fight for human rights or civil liberties in this country. For the activist, it might just be another year of many, but with improved success. However, for most laymen, this year is an eye opener, again, with credit given to the power of social media which helped the process of political awakening especially among the youths. It is the year that LGBT topics were brought up in discussions, where the right to demonstrate in public was debated even on the ground and also the year where the topic of students’ rights is as hot as our Harimau Malaya.
So what is next? With the elections looming, 2012 might be the year where these progressive, necessary reforms take a big leap forward, where real progress might be made by the incoming government. However, one might argue that during the campaigning period promises will be made to these groups of activists, but once elected with a mandate, these promises will be forgotten as the new government focuses on pushing unpopular reforms after receiving the mandate.
After all, it all depends on how much these four years have taught the incoming government, whether it be the incumbent or the opposition. The year 2011 has been a wonderful year for Malaysia, only if we’ve learned the lessons from the awful things that have taken place and thanked others for the beautiful ones. Yet 2012 will definitely be an important year for this beloved country of ours. It will not only shape Malaysia for the year 2013, but for many years to come. Let us all hope that 2012 will unfold as nicely as our new Filofax fillings. Happy New Year!
* Ezlan is a third-year medical undergraduate at Queen Mary, University of London. He tweets at @ezlanmohsen.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.