Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Yes, your votes do count in the next election

Brave New World (The Star)
1 March 2017

The window for registering to vote could be narrowing, so don’t throw away your privilege and responsibility.
I GATHER that there are over four million eligible voters who are yet to register. Most of these people are young, that is to say in the 21 to 29-year-old range.
Word from those who work in voter registration is that there is a prevailing feeling amongst the youth that although they may not like the ruling party, they also don’t like the opposition. In other words, they feel that there is no one that they want to vote for.
A feeling of disillusionment is also appa­rently flowing through the urban middle classes who may feel let down by the disunity amongst the opposition parties, as well as perhaps a feeling of hopelessness due to the fact that the electoral system seems to be so flawed – thus meaning a lower voter turnout.
Heaven knows I can sympathise with all of the feelings above. However, I think staying away from the polls is not the best thing to do. If we want change to happen in the country then everything that can be done, must be done.
It is important to know that the elections are not the be-all and end-all. They are merely one tool with which to work for change. Of course, ideally, one can just go about one’s life and only worry about politics once every four or five years, but that is simply not the case here.
There is too much going on that will have a profound effect on the nation and our lives. Corruption; new laws which impose disproportionate penalties; public institutions that are poorly led and facing a trust deficit; the list goes on.
It won’t be easy to make the changes necessary to make this country well, and I can understand the pessimism that leads to the belief that the current crop of politicians are not the people to do it. But having said that, it would be folly to just ignore the elections.
At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, elected members of parliament and state legislative assembly persons are the ones who make laws and influence policy. Therefore they have to constantly show that their position is by virtue of us.
There are other methods to do so, of course. We can pressure and lobby them persistently and constantly, but why not use elections as well? The political elite in this country need to know what it feels like to win and to lose and they need to understand that we are the ones to determine that.
Although in the past, elections were relatively simple affairs where the voter had basically a choice of two to make, nowadays we have the great possibility of three-cornered fights. Although this plays into the hands of the incumbent, they are still important elections to take part in for they are an opportunity to show the competing parties whether the voter supports their individual manifestos.
What about the uneven constituencies? I agree, things are weighed so heavily in the favour of Barisan Nasional that it all seems a bit pointless. However, win or lose, the popular vote is still an important statistic. Not to those who win via gerrymandering, but for those who wish to continue to strive for a changed Malaysia, for the popular vote is an important form of legitimacy.
All in all, it is better to be part of the election system than not. If the elections are in September, which is a high possibility, then the end of March is the last chance to register to vote if one is to be certain of the chance to do so in GE14.
If you or anyone you know have not done so, I implore you to change that. Then we can get on with the business of changing the country. No matter what the GE14 results are.

No comments: