by Chris Lee Chun Kit
Disappointed, upset, frustrated…… so many words but yet when the election results came out on the 31 st of May, we knew that we had lost the parliamentary seat of Teluk Intan to the Barisan Nasional. The verdict was out and we had to swallow the bitter pill that the bane of racial politics was still very powerful in our beloved Malaysia.
No matter how close the vote count was, the ‘first past the post’ system that Malaysia subscribes to dictate that a majority is a majority even if it is a majority of one vote.
As I sat quietly with my friends Rozaimin and Shakir, I struggled to find the words to describe the situation. My friend Shakir had his head buried in his hands and I could tell that he was in tears and between sobs I could hear him mumble “where did we go wrong?”
I looked down at my phone and I saw there was a message from our DAP National Vice-Chairman Ariffin Omar telling me that although we had lost, he was really proud of Dyana and she must not give up hope.
“Hope?” I thought to myself. Yes, we all hoped and it did not materialise, we challenged the shackles of racial politics and it gripped us down even more. So many thoughts came to my mind, I was reminded of the things my friends had said to me when I told them I was entering politics.
“Your parents are aging and you have a handicapped sister, you should worry about yourself instead of getting into something that will never change”
“Forget it la… the BN will never lose power…. they are destined to rule forever”
I then awoke myself from these thoughts and decided to look around me. I looked at my friend Shakir who was starting to compose himself and thought,
“Man, who am I to complain? This dude has been here for two weeks campaigning alongside Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, although I have known both of them since my childhood days, they suffered the persecution of being branded traitors for being members of the DAP .”
Yes, people like Dyana, Zairil, Ariffin Omar and Shakir had decided to be with the DAP with the hopes of bringing new politics to Malaysia. Their beliefs are that there is still hope to change the nation. There are ups and there are downs, nothing was ever nor will they ever be perfect but they hung on.
They faced the persecution of their friends, families and the powers that be for the simple hope that we can end the division of the people and bring unity to the nation.
So in retrospect, the BN may have won this battle, but the war is far from over. For in front of me, are my friends who never saw ourselves as people of different races but as Malaysians and good friends, united for the common cause of a great united nation.
The seeds of unity have already been planted, the reason that the BN are panicking is because they know that the people are slowly coming together. Through the years there may be some who may have left but many more have joined because they know that a colourblind future is worth fighting for.
I never saw my colleagues as Malays, Chinese or Indians before or even after the campaign, we were Malaysians who believed and trusted each other. I had wanted to stay the night originally before returning to Penang the next day but I decided that it was time to go home.
As I looked at the BN supporters celebrating on the streets, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were genuinely happy or they were just patting themselves on the back for fulfilling their job requirements.
Whatever it is, this defeat was a lesson to all of us on the power of every single vote. No matter who you support, always remember that every single vote counts. Let no citizen ever take their vote for granted ever again.
Yes there is still hope and Teluk Intan is just the beginning of racial unity and the formation of a truly Malaysian identity.
To my friends whom I worked so closely and love so much no matter our differences, do not give up hope for we have shown how our racial differences never mattered through our laughter and tears. Always remember Teluk Intan.
To my fellow Malaysians who think that their one vote will never make a difference, I say remember Teluk Intan.
To Gerakan who is supposed to be a non-sectarian movement yet aligned to racial parties like UMNO, MCA and the MIC, note that the DAP has gone where you have failed in the struggle for non-sectarian politics. Teluk Intan is proof of that, so remember Teluk Intan.
To the BN who thinks that their fortunes have changed and its back to business as usual, I want you to remember that everyone who did not return to vote that day now realise the importance of their one vote.
The voters, and all of us that stood united that 31st of May will always REMEMBER TELUK INTAN. -The Rocket
* Chris Lee Chun Kit is a member of the DAP and currently serves as the party’s Youth Deputy Chief of Penang. He is also serving as a Councillor at the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP)
* The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the columnist