Side Views

What is democracy? — Joshua Teh Honguan

FEB 27 — I believe that, given the political climate in Malaysia, the question has become a loaded one. “Vote for change!” has become a clarion call among the discontent. “Every vote counts” being another.

Democracy, many will believe, is the power to bring a corrupt out-of-touch government to its knees, and the ballot box will be the means of achieving it.

The problem as I see it, however, is that the discontent and anger being directed against the government is causing many of us to adopt a myopic view-point. It has come to the point where votes will be cast in anger and spite against the ruling party, and not because the opposition deserves your vote.

I do believe that every vote is precious. I believe that the right to vote is one of the clear signs of a functioning democracy. I believe that your vote is so precious it should not be given away just because the other party has clearly messed up. In a mature exercise of democracy, the question should go beyond “Who are you voting for?” to “Why are you voting thus?”

And to me, “Because the other party is useless/corrupt/greedy/racist/etc” is not good enough an answer, because who is to say the other party will be any better?

To sweepingly state that surely anything will be better than what we have now is to be ignorant of, or intentionally blind, to certain facts. The unhappiness against the government in Kedah; the lack of clear progress in Selangor and, to a larger extent, Kelantan; the political in-fighting; the spectre of hudud — we must be aware that if we hand power over to the opposition, we are not handing it over to political paragons. They are not infallible, and, as far as I am concerned, have not proven convincingly that they unequivocally deserve the mandate to rule.

You do not have to agree with my expressed views, and that is perfectly all right. At the end of the day, a mature democracy is one where we accept the dissenting views of others because everyone has the right to express themselves and to subscribe to their own set of beliefs. And, if in keeping with your beliefs, you decide to vote government/opposition, great.

My vote is not going to be cast by default. I demand a better standard of government, one which looks after its people regardless of race or creed, one which is willing to move past race-based politics, one which is convinced that a higher quality of education is as important as a strong economy.

And as GE13 approaches, the ball is in your court, BN/PR. You deserve the right to rule and are you the government we Malaysians deserve, as clamoured by your supporters nationwide?

Prove it.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

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