Updated: Sep 23, 2021
By: Joyton H.L. Fu
Image source: Forbes
Jimmy was driving down the street when he came across a group of protesters. Bewildered by their presence, he approached them and saw numerous banners that read “KerajaanGagal”, “#LAWAN” and “Kerajaan Derhaka”. He knew it must be related to the recent shortcomings of the government’s policies, but he had no idea why these protesters got so desperate to the point where they risked their own health and safety to organize a protest.
Despite that, his curiosity only lasted for a few minutes since he had to rush back home to complete his assignments. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that his friend told him that Ismail Sabri, the former Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister became the 9th prime minister. He instantly thought of the protest he encountered a few weeks ago, where he started wondering if that was part of the reason why the former prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin resigned and how Malaysia even got to this chaotic circumstance in the first place. It was only then that he found out the true intentions of the protesters were to fight for democracy, justice, and a more competent government!
Teenagers like Jimmy are prevalent in Malaysian society, especially among Generation Z, which is also ironically known as the Generation of Change. It has been a downright disgrace that they consider politics as drama rather than a crucial component that defines the way they live. Ever since Hope Alliance (Pakatan Harapan) took over the country’s governance, our country finally took a great leap forward in the journey of pursuing democracy. Despite the changes that occurred after two years, we should not fall into despair or feel discouraged to vote in the upcoming general election, because it is our duty to preserve that democracy after attaining it. In order to do so, we have to realize how our country plunged itself into this series of power struggles and most importantly, how the monarchies, opposition, ruling parties, constitution and ultimately, us came into play.
Image source: BBC
To understand how democracy in our country works, we have to know how the votes we cast affect the political outcome. The political system in our country is known as Constitutional Monarchy with parliamentary democracy, which is similar to the one practised in the United Kingdom. The Constitution of Malaysia requires that a general election must be held at least once every five years, in which voters decide their representatives at both federal level and state level. There will be two candidates representing each electoral district at both levels. At the state level, the candidate that receives the most votes will acquire a seat at the state legislative assembly, whereas the candidate at federal level will get a seat at the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). This is known as the first-past-the-post voting system, in which the candidate who receives the most votes wins. The party that wins the majority of seats will ultimately become the ruling party, as they get to decide Ministers in the Cabinet, which will be led by the Prime Minister.
Theoretically, the parliament acts as a legislative branch which oversees the progress of the executive branch. However, this has been changed over the past few decades as the former ruling party, Barisan Nasional used several means to centralize the power on the Executive Branch in an effort to eliminate political dissidents. Despite these constraints, we can still change their policies if we vote for the right party and candidates, as they can change this inequitable system to return the democracy that once belonged to us. It may sound too optimistic, but reformation takes time. This is a necessary step in order to guarantee a more efficient and less authoritarian political system that can ensure the voices of the people to be heard. Therefore, your vote matters, it is your innate right to choose the best leader that can lead the whole nation to a brighter future.
It is miserable that the systemically prejudiced political, educational, and economical system have given rise to severe brain drain, as intellectuals no longer think they are cherished and perceive this country as a dreadful and despairing place for them. One has to realize that it is precisely this mindset that threatens the development and potential growth of our country. If we continue to lose our hope and leave, this country will eventually be plunged into an eternal darkness where incompetent individuals continue to exacerbate the current circumstance. This is the country where we were born and raised, it would be an utter ignominy if we refuse to contribute anything at all.
We may not be the ones who lead the change, but we can be the ones who contribute to it. There is still an immense potential for the economic growth of our country. For instance, the surge in demand for microchips due to recent clashes between the US and China gave us an unprecedented advantage, as the government can cherish this opportunity to enhance its current technology and productivity. Nevertheless, this will never be accomplished if policy makers do not invest heavily in developing the necessary infrastructure and incentivize skillful engineers to do so. Thus, choosing the right party is crucial, as we do not desire a party that focuses on provoking racial sentiment rather than expanding various industrial sectors with potential.
Image source: Malay Mail
It is the unequivocal truth that by casting a vote, you are able to change the policies. You may not be a politician, but you are obliged to understand politics in order to change politics. As Plato once said: “if you do not take interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.” Conversely, if you remain vigilant on the current situation and vote, the political landscape of our country will eventually change, which was precisely what happened in the 14th General Election when the final voter turnout was 82.32%.
Although Pakatan Harapan is no longer the ruling party, it is a huge milestone in the pursuit of democracy as we finally broke free from the Barisan Nasional’s regime after 61 years. The fact that there hasn’t been a single bloodshed after the Sheraton Incident is also quite remarkable as it shows the resilience and tolerance of all races despite the hurdles we face amidst this pandemic. After all, there is absolutely no reason for you to lose hope, because it is the utmost obligation of Malaysians to dedicate themselves for the sake of Malaysia.