People often make assumptions based on my social media postings and the articles I write that I am anti-government and pro-opposition. This is untrue.
Just because I dislike steamed fish, doesn’t mean I hate everything with fish, does it? To tell you the truth, my knees still go weak at the sight of cencaru masak belacan and fried ikan bilis with tempe. Likewise, just because I have a soft spot for fried chicken, steamed chicken and grilled chicken, doesn’t mean I fancy every other kind of bird – I do gag at the sight of turkeys and ducks. Just saying.
You see, as much as I detest the politicians in the government who make headlines for all the wrong reasons, I do appreciate the government representatives in Parliament who stand for the people – I just can’t seem to recall any of their names right now (I am sure if I think hard enough, I might be able to think of one).
At the same time, although I am fond of the opposition representatives claiming to be pro-People, I do question their level of commitment from time to time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to forget the time when the Prevention of Terrorism Act made its way through Parliament in 2015 thanks to the 26 absent opposition MP during its tabling.
Being a fence-sitter leaves me with the difficult question of who to vote for in the next general election.
To simplify things, I told myself that I have two options – the current government or the opposition. (Obviously!)
To tell you the truth, like many friends of mine, I do not want to be governed by the same prime minister – there are way too many scandals smearing his name which have not been cleared or which have been attempted to be cleared, which is still not good enough to restore my faith.
That being said, I also cannot possibly support any candidates who are products of the same party. After all, although some of them have now joined the opposition, none of them left in the first place to champion the rights of the people – instead, they were flushed out. In my honest opinion, if they weren’t, they’d probably still be holding “I love PM” placards.
Having Umno candidates going against ex-Umno candidates for thepremiership doesn’t leave me with good options.
So who would I vote for?
After a considerable amount of thinking, I have made my decision.
I would vote for the people who have gained my trust on a personal level. People who I have not only read about in the newspaper, but who manage to carry out their responsibilities in a manner I highly respect.
And the two men who have proved themselves since 2013 are my MP, Steven Sim and my assemblyperson, Lee Khai Loon.
I live in Perkampungan Machang Bubok, a small village located in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Consisting of over 2000 residents made up of 85 percent Chinese, 12 percent Malays and 5 percent Indians, we have Chinese temples, mosques, suraus, churches and Hindu temples. The people here are friendly and close to one another despite the differences in our beliefs.
Our kampong roads may be infested with potholes and our garbage system may need a little improvement, but our brotherhood is wonderfully strong, thanks to my assemblyperson, Khai Loon.
You see, my assemblyperson visits our mosque during Ramadan and organises events to meet Muslim residents. He has made a point to reach out to the Muslims, a minority in our village. To feel a sense of belonging in a community is crucial in nation-building and my assemblyperson has successfully built it here in my kampong.
With halal nasi lemak and non-halal char siew pau being sold inside the same market; pigs roasted in the same street frequented by the Muslim folks during Chinese festivals; Muslim food stalls and Chinese food stalls standing next to each other; Muslims living next to Chinese cemeteries and temples – so far, no one has protested or grumbled even.
The only grumble we hear is about the high cost of living – and even that, we grumble about together, regardless of our race or faith.
My MP loves sambal belacan
My assemblyperson is a lucky man, for he has found a perfect sidekick in my MP, Steven Sim. Together, they work on demolishing the walls we have built around for us for years, which separate us based on our race and religion.
Recently I had the privilege of meeting Steven during an event he had organised to bond with the folks in the neighbourhood. Sitting with the Malay elderlies and youngsters, I was astonished to see the Chinese man eat sambal belacan, ulam and gulai masak lemak like a typical Malay – he even ended up drinking the residue!
Steven assimilated with the people like they were his own family – chats, jokes and laughter filled the air.
At the end of the gathering, standing next to Pak Jah, the eldest man in the neighbourhood, Steven went on to say something heartfelt:
“Pak Jah tak lahir Melayu untuk sokong Umno. Saya tak lahir Cina untuk sokong DAP. Kita dicipta tuhan untuk hidup bersama. Banyak negara di dunia cuma ada satu kaum. Kita istimewa kerana kita ada pelbagai kaum. Ini masa untuk kita hidup bersama sepertimana yang dikehendaki tuhan. Kepelbagaian kaum jadikan kita kuat dan bukannya lemah. Sebenarnya dunia ini bukan untuk orang jahiliyah, dunia ini adalah untuk orang seperti kita yang boleh bekerjasama dan hidup sepakat. Jadi marilah kita hidup bersama, berkerjasama dan bersepakat.”
(“Pak Jah was not born a Malay to support Umno. And I was not born Chinese to support DAP. We are all created by God to live together. Many countries in the world only have one race. We are special because we have multiple races. This means that it may be God’s desire for us to live together. Our diversity makes us stronger, not weaker. The truth is, this world is not made for the ignorant, this world is made for people like us who can work together and live in harmony. So let us live together and work together in peace.”)
In the past, I used to vote for any representative of Barisan Nasional – simply because I loved former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. And then there was a time I voted for any representative of the opposition – simply because I was angered by the government. Today, with both parties proving unworthy of my vote, I shall choose my leaders based on their proven track records.
After all, what we want as an ordinary rakyat, is to have leaders who would work their butts off to champion our agenda. If we do not begin appreciating the leaders who are closest to us by awarding them with our undivided support for a job well done, I suppose we should stop complaining when things around us begin to crumble.
And so you see, the question of who I will be voting for in the upcoming general election is no longer difficult, for my vote shall be reserved for my MP, Steven Sim and my assemblyperson, Lee Khai Loon, regardless of which party they are associated with.
May Allah bless them!