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Time to start 5-year report card for PH govt

  • Let's play our roles as citizens to keep the elected leaders accountable in carrying out their duty so that we can keep progressing as a democratic country.

By Khoo Ying Hooi

It has been more than a week since the historical Malaysian election on 9 May that witnessed the fall of Barisan Nasional (BN) after 61 years. No words can really describe how I feel about the shocking election result on 9 May. And, I am sure I am not alone in this. Similar as with many other Malaysians, I longed for a better Malaysia and I want the freedom to express our views and the ability to participate in the political discourse.

In my previous public writings, I have constantly advocating the importance for the Malaysians to engage with politics in daily life, as that’s how democracy should be. Democracy starts from the moment where citizens understand and practice their responsibilities, so that it can activates the bottom-up approach.

I remembered writing about how protests can bring change and the role of electoral reform movement, Bersih in influencing the political discourse in the country, and here I quote one of my previous writings, "Amidst the growing protest momentum, there is a bigger question – will it actually change anything in the country? Protests highlight the ability of ordinary citizens to make their disapproval heard, but do these protests matter?"

Very often, my optimism is met with skepticism but 9 May is a witness to Malaysians’ increased political awareness. 9 May is a day where all Malaysians should be very proud of, as we made our voices heard in a peaceful manner and we exercised our people power through the ballot.

Now that things are slowly being put in place in the country, we are all adjusting to this new-found democracy. While we celebrate the reborn of the country, there is a continuous need for us, the Malaysians to keep the check and balance with the new government under Pakatan Harapan (PH). Most importantly, we should not lose the momentum of active participation in wanting a better-governed country.

No one can dismiss the significant factor of Tun Dr. Mahathir in this election but, there’s another factor that in my opinion, we should not ignored, that is, the people will in bringing change for the country.

In the past, many have argued that Bersih has achieved little in demanding the government to make meaningful reforms; this election has proven that the movement has influenced the Malaysians’ ability to challenge the government in many ways. The movement has positively influenced the attitude of Malaysians towards elections regardless of their political inclination.

Bersih has brought a new dimension on the role of social movements in the growth of popular mobilization for electoral reform. It shows the impact of social movements in creating such high political activism among the citizens. For example, fear of electoral fraud coupled with the heightened awareness of the public about the voting procedures led to the generation of a long list of doubts and concerns among the voters.

The formation of Bersih has always been intended to conduct voters’ education as it believed despite of the electoral fraud and malpractices such as gerrymandering, but it can possibly be defeated when people understand each vote matters and there is a value to each vote. By encouraging people to vote, it is aimed to advocate for their civic duty as a citizen and to play an active role in our flawed electoral politics. 9 May is the day where we, the Malaysians always remember as we exercised our right to vote and we believe the power of our votes.

9 May shows us that people are responding to the issue and the issue resonated. In the past, Malaysians were known to be apathetic and complacent about elections and national politics. However this has changed where the 9 May shows us that the citizens have becoming more actively involved and participate in voicing out opinions and attempting to be able to influence the government.

While the country under Tun Dr. Mahathir is now undergoing various reforms, we must ensure we keep pushing for good governance and accountability for the country. It is now time to start the 5-year report card of our new government, for this; let us all play our roles as the citizens to keep the elected leaders accountable in carrying out their duty so that we can keep progressing as a democratic country.

(Khoo Ying Hooi is Universiti Malaya Senior Lecturer)



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