Fix Opinion

Democracy Is Slowly Coming To Malaysia

Evangeline Han
MELAKA, Malaysia – The internet –
with its news sites, social media and partisan blogs – is helping to spur
change in government here and, I hope, will eventually bring true democracy to
my country.

Yesterday, Malaysians over age
21 went to the polls and elected a new government for the coming five years.

As the culmination of months of
campaigning – labeled by some as one of Malaysia’s dirties elections ever – it proved
a pivotal moment in the nation’s history.
Since Independence Day in 1957, Malaysia has been governed
by only one political coalition, the Barisan Nasional, or National Front.
In the last decade, however, thanks to the internet,
people have become more aware of the corruption and dirty politics played by
the National Front.
In the general election in 2008,
the National Front lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament and since then,
it’s been harder for the coalition to pass unfair laws.  Internet blogs can take credit for that.
Since the government announced
the date of this year’s general election, allegations of corruption and
vote-buying are on the rise.
The last straw was when the opposition, Pakatan
Rakyat, or People’s Alliance, claimed that the government has been
paying and flying in thousands of foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistan and
other countries to vote in Malaysia’s elections.
When I first read about it, I felt angry and helpless. I
am a 19-year old Malaysian and I cannot vote in my elections but somehow a
Pakistani can vote in my elections. Where is the justice in that?
Other charges levied by the opposition against the
government make me mad. They claimed their supporters were beaten by the
National Front’s hooligans and that the police did nothing, and that Malaysians
living outside the country had trouble casting their ballots by post.
It seems to me that the National
Front was doing everything it could to ensure victory at any cost.
Election officials didn’t
announce the final results until after 2 a.m. today. Never before in Malaysia’s
election history have the voting results been so late, but that didn’t surprise
me, either.
To my great
disappointment, the National Front remained the federal government of Malaysia,
but the small bit of good news was that the opposition won seven more
Parliamentary seats than they did in the last elections in 2008.
These seven seats, won in
East Malaysia, proved that the People’s Alliance is making inroads in two
states that have long been considered government strongholds. Also the results
proved that for the second time in Malaysian history, the National Front failed
to retain a two-thirds majority.
I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. to watch the live election updates
online. While watching, I read reports of some brave Malaysians who tried to
prevent voter fraud, even forming human barricades in some places, because
police were of no help.
It is these courageous
people who give me hope.
When I saw that the
National Front had retained a simple majority to form a government, I cried. I
love Malaysia and it saddens me to see my country being destroyed by the very
people who are supposed to protect her.
But despite my feelings
of disappointment, anger, sadness, and disillusionment, I take hope in the fact
that democracy is a journey, a process. It doesn’t happen in 10 years.
We might have lost
because of dirty politics, but the government can never silence our voices. We
have Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites that were greatly used by
the young people in this election.
We will continue to speak
and we will continue to fight for a clean electoral list, for leaders who are
not corrupt, and for fair elections.
A defeat cannot weaken
us; it can only make us stronger.