When Khairy Jamaluddin became a cabinet minister in 2013, I got excited.
Here was someone around my age, my generation, who was now in a position of authority that could actually influence policy relevant to me. Before this, all the members of the cabinet were my father’s generation.
But somehow, the only thing that is actually similar is our age. Everything else seems to be quite different. Here is someone who actually was very politically aware from a young age, grew up in a political household, had ambitions to be a politician and actually strategised his career.
In the last general election, he contested in Rembau, a relatively rural area whose youth population have mainly migrated to the bigger cities for more opportunities. So I wonder how much of his personality and context played a role in him being elected by his constituents.
Now, the opposition has a candidate that I am also excited about and find very relatable, probably even more relatable than Khairy. This person is Fahmi Fadzil. He, like Khairy, is also around the same age as me. But there are probably more similarities.
I used to be very apolitical when I was younger, and when I mean younger, I mean when I was in my mid to late teenage years. I wasn’t aware of social issues or anything that was going on around me in society. I guess I was apathetic about everything.
It was only after I approached the age of 19 or 20 that I slowly started to open my eyes, and I have to admit that the Reformasi era in the late 1990s played a big part in that. I believe that Fahmi had also the same exposure as I did during this time and that really flipped a switch in our generation.
I started to take interest in social issues and politics. As soon as I graduated from university, I started working as a journalist. That opened my eyes even further. I also started writing a lot and got involved in filmmaking. That was also how I got to know Fahmi.
Fahmi was an engineer who quit his job and decided to be a theatre practitioner. The scene was small, and eventually everyone would know everyone. He and I were and are not best buddies but we know each other, have hung out and had conversations and definitely have many mutual friends.
I was using my writing and my filmmaking to address issues I saw that was happening and affecting society around me. Fahmi did the same thing with his theatre art and writing as well. At the time, it was safe to assume that many of us were not satisfied with the situation in the country (even till today).
As the years went by, many of us went our separate ways. Some of us continued to be in the arts and express our feelings and opinions. I was one of those who felt that it was important to continue telling these stories. Fahmi felt he needed to take bigger and more significant actions.
That is how he turned to politics. He joined the PKR and became the press officer for Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar. Slowly, he started rising through the ranks and he became PKR’s communication director (the skills and ability he acquired from his theatre days proved to be an advantage).
And now Fahmi has been confirmed as a candidate for the coming election happening next month. The constituency that he will be running in has yet to be officially confirmed and announced, but everyone is speculating that it will be Lembah Pantai because that’s where a lot of his activities have been focused.
Guess what? I am registered to vote in Lembah Pantai and that’s why I’m excited. Probably now, I would feel like my voice is being represented.
Fahmi isn’t the only one. The fact that there are many candidates of this generation, not just in the opposition, but also in the incumbent party, shows that the possibility of change exists.
It is actually quite exciting times now, much unlike the time when Khairy first ran, where he was one person swallowed up by a party that never listened to our generation anyway.
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