It’s hard to be gracious towards BN
By Zan Azlee
I never thought BN would actually be ousted from power in Malaysia. After 61 years since independence, you can’t blame me for already having it ingrained in me that BN will forever be the government.
If anything, I thought the margin of BN’s win was what would determine if it was a victory or not. The best outcome that I had hoped for was for Pakatan Harapan to deny them a huge marginal win so that they would have to face a stronger opposition in Parliament.
In part, it was the fatigue of the past two elections where Harapan had come so close, yet there was no cookie. 2008 was a nice surprise when they managed to wrest three states from BN. Everyone celebrated that one.
2013 was the huge disappointment. I, and many Malaysians, thought this would have been the one where Harapan would do it. Spirits were high and the effort put in was tremendous. Unfortunately, they won the popular vote but not Parliament.
And two days ago, when the results for the 2018 general election started trickling in and I could see it was just neck-and-neck from the very beginning, I was still pretty subdued and still told myself that I had to manage my expectations.
But as the hours crept by and it didn’t seem like Harapan would be losing the lead, I started to get excited. When the number of constituencies that turned red increased and inched closer to the halfway mark of 112, Mahathir announced that Harapan had enough seats to win.
I was elated, but to be honest, still very apprehensive. You never know what could happen. Malaysians have been used to so many dirty tricks being pulled that we saw everything through tinted shades of grey. We were still not counting our chickens before they hatched.
But slowly, it cemented together. It was the next morning before the official results released by the Election Commission finally showed that Harapan had won by a simple majority. Even then, they didn’t say outright that Harapan had won. They just announced the number of seats won.
It would take another 20 hours before the new prime minister from Harapan would finally be sworn in by the king. But he did it, and unbelievable as it is, BN has finally been ousted from the government after 61 years.
The fact that BN, while in power, created so many hurdles and challenges to make it almost impossible for them to lose made it even more satisfying. With the gerrymandering and redelineation of constituency borders, it still couldn’t keep Harapan from winning.
It boiled down to two simple things, actually. Firstly, it was the fact that Harapan finally had a leader that could bring together the hodge-podge of parties that formed the coalition.
Sure, it was Mahathir, who they may have considered to be evil in the first place, but I guess people were convinced enough that he really did want to right the wrongs that he had committed when he was a member of BN and was the prime minister for 22 years. This may still be an issue, but it was the greater good that people were looking at for now.
Secondly, corruption in the government finally became too much for Malaysians to accept. The 1MDB scandal was definitely a big one. Initially, it was too complicated for people to comprehend. But eventually, people realised that it just boiled down to simple abuse of power and theft.
Enough is enough.
BN just had to go. They had to be shown the exit because absolute power corrupts absolutely. No one party should ever be in power for too long, and in BN’s case, they shouldn’t be in power forever.
Harapan’s win has opened the floodgates to a better democracy and more accountability. Now, like it or not, BN has to clean themselves up, and the best way for them to do this is to be the opposition.
One of the first things BN needs to do, among many, many other things, is to sack Najib Abdul Razak as their president. But this will be discussed in another instalment of my column. So please wait for that.
Being gracious towards BN
People say that we cannot be smug and we need to be gracious about ousting BN out from Putrajaya. This is very true. They have already lost and we shouldn’t kick them when they are down. But, understandably, this is something many Malaysians find very hard to do.
Take me, for example. I have gone through many struggles with the BN government. I am a journalist and I learned that you couldn’t practice journalism to its full potential in Malaysia. I have had articles spiked and jobs jeopardised. I have even had my documentary films banned.
I have been detained by the authorities just because I was doing my job. I have witnessed all kinds atrocities committed towards my fellow Malaysians. It was a very oppressive time for many when BN was in power.
My example is really a very mild one. There are many Malaysians who have had to go through much more than me over the years. I can only imagine how they must be feeling right at this moment.
So forgive me, and many other Malaysians, if we make one or two snarky remarks about BN. We just can’t help it. It has been too long and we have been through too much. But rest assured, that is all that we will do.
At the end of the day, I want a better Malaysia. Trust me that the new government will be monitored and scrutinised just as critically. And the opposition will be monitored and scrutinised too, so that they will play their role in keeping everything in check.
Malaysians have united, regardless of ethnicity and religion, to show that they want a change for the better. What happened on May 9 and 10 has given the country hope and faith that we are okay and that we can now be on our way to being a normal country.
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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