Went out to vote in my Bangsar area polling station. Got there a little past 8 am and already there was a huge crowd. Similar reports are coming in from polling stations across the country. Indeed, over 8 million voters have already cast their ballots (as of 1pm). At this rate, I think we can expect that a very high percentage, perhaps over 82%, of voters will cast their ballots before closes.
Young and old, with walking sticks and in wheelchairs they came determined to do their duty. I think everyone senses what’s at stake and is rising to the occasion. No one can say voters are not doing their duty.
Polling seems to bring out the best in Malaysia. At the polling station, racial and religious barriers diminish. We talk with strangers as if they were old friends. We share our hopes and fears with our neighbours. We are united by our common citizenship and a shared concern for the future of our nation.
It heartening to see election workers, policemen and RELA volunteers rushing to help the elderly and the infirm. A young Malay police officer gently pushing an elderly Chinese voter in a wheelchair; it is a side to the police that we don’t often see. Yet it is these simple acts of kindness and courtesy that bring us together, break down barriers and strengthen our sense of identity as Malaysians. I think if the politicians stop stirring up racial and religious animosity – as former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former economic affairs minister Azmin Ali did in the final days of their campaign – Malaysia would have been united a long time ago.
There are hopeful signs that Pakatan Harapan will now emerge as the largest single party in the next parliament. They might even make it past a simple majority. If it happens, it will truly be a stunning rebuke to Zahid Hamidi and UMNO-BN.
Since the last general election, UMNO in particular has refused to accept the will of the people. They have destabilised three governments and wreaked tremendous havoc upon the nation. They are the reason why we have to go to the polls today, months earlier than expected.
Now they will feel the wrath of the people. Malaysians are a patient and docile lot but patience and docility must not be mistaken for acquiescence or indifference. Today, Zahid and UMNO-BN will discover that the people cannot be taken for granted; voters are far more aware of what is going on than politicians give them credit for.
If all goes well, if deep state actors don’t intervene to forge a last-minute coalition of losing parties to block Pakatan Harapan, we might just wake up tomorrow morning to the dawn of a new era in Malaysian politics. It will not be the end of our struggle by any means, but hope would have been renewed that with a little faith, all things are possible.
In the meantime, keep going everyone. Go out and vote if you haven’t already. Don’t wait. Do it now!
[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 19th November 2022]