The value of a vote
AUGUST 25 ― Perhaps one of the weaknesses of democracy is that there is little option for the voter who finds both parties (or coalitions) unappealing.
The Opposition will say that not voting for them, or abstaining from casting a ballot altogether, is as good as supporting the ruling party. Of course, politicians will say anything to get votes.
If young people are disillusioned with politics, as Syerleena Abdul Rashid from DAP has observed, then political leaders must find out why some youths don’t see any suitable election candidates.
It is not so much about the number of scandals that has left some young people feeling disengaged, but the way political leaders (from both sides of the divide) respond to them.
Both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders refuse to go on leave when they are implicated in corruption cases (though of course, the ruling party is linked to far larger amounts of money and they have control over State machinery).
PH also conveniently puts aside the scandals during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.
Besides giving similar responses to corruption scandals, both also advocate retaining racial politics and pro-Bumiputera policies, despite knowing full well the cost to the country all these years.
Although PKR is fairly multi-racial, it is clear that PH aims to set itself up as doppelganger to the race-based BN with Bumiputera-only Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Chinese-dominant DAP, and potential partner Hindraf, seeing that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is in talks with the Indian group. Oh and there’s Amanah too, in case PH isn’t Muslim enough.
PPBM strategist Rais Hussin reportedly said that PH would keep pro-Bumiputera policies in place should it form the government, except that it would improve implementation to prevent abuse by select Umno leaders.
If that isn’t galling enough, he said PH would also introduce affirmative action for all races.
So the entire Malaysian population needs affirmative action now? If the objective is to expand the middle class, then why not get rid of pro-Bumiputera policies altogether and focus on ways to increase income levels across all communities?
Improve education and empower all Malaysians to get better-paying jobs. Everyone should be able to reap rewards from hard work, regardless of what race they’re from. This is much fairer and prevents the market from being distorted. The less the State intervenes in the economy, the better.
And before they repeat the tiring claim that the Chinese dominate the economy and point to the top 10 richest Malaysians, I will say that I don’t care that eight of them are Chinese. It does not help me in any way and it is not a particular source of pride for me. I wouldn’t care if the majority of the wealthiest Malaysians were Malays or Indians either.
The point is, I’m not on the list. I’m not rich enough to buy a BMW or a nice new double-storey house in the city. All I can afford to buy is a small sub-sale apartment in the outskirts of Subang Jaya.
And this was from years of avoiding drinking expensive cappuccinos at hipster cafes or buying imported cars. Now, I buy RM6 nasi ayam (mountain of rice, chicken thigh and a generous serving of vegetables) from a Malay stall for lunch every day instead of the RM7 chicken rice from the Chinese kopitiam (miserable servings).
Unfortunately, both PH and BN don’t seem interested in promoting libertarian policies to enable the middle class to live more comfortably. All they care about is the rural Malay-Muslim vote.
BN seems to have given up on middle class voters like me with their increasingly fascist policies over the past decade, while PH has taken my vote for granted.
So when it comes to the 14th general elections, I think I can afford to act as the selfish voter and tell both parties to take a hike if they do not give me what I want ― remove pro-Bumiputera policies (especially in the property sector as they distort the market and affect house prices), keep religion out of policymaking, ensure bigger wage increases, lower personal income taxes (GST can be retained so that the tax burden is spread out across the population), no water cuts whatsoever, and safe streets like in Melbourne or Singapore where I can walk freely without sexual harassment.
If both coalitions insist on retaining their racial political structures and racist government policies, then they can forget about my vote.
Mathematically, one vote very rarely decides an election. The SNP, however, did win a seat in the recent UK general election with just two votes. The UK also recorded majorities of zero and one in the 1886 and 1910 elections.
Highly unlikely to happen in Segambut though, which the DAP won in 2013 with a majority of over 19,000 votes.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.