10 May 2018 marks the dawn of a new era.
10 May is the day that represents hope and inspiration for those who have overcome their own circumstances to shine and be heard in Malaysia.
It is the day where the shocking and historic win at the Malaysian elections led by ex Prime Minister Dr Mahathir at a ripe old age of 92 toppled the six decades leadership of Malaysia by the incumbent party, Barisan Nasional (BN).
BN has been the ruling party for the Malaysia since its independence from the British in 1957 and Dr Mahathir himself helmed the leadership of this very party during his time as a Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003.
So what's the big deal if we have seen other black swans like of Brexit and Trump taking office in America?
This win in Malaysia has shown that hope can triumph for a country that is terribly beaten and this victory is particularly sweet on a few fronts:
1. Unity of the divided masses
While Malaysia is a multi ethical country , it is also known for its unwavering privilege towards its majority Malay population. It is especially pronounced in the government policies where the Malay community is given unlimited rights to housing, education..etc that the minority races were kept far from no matter how diligent they are..
Apparently there are universities in Malaysia for Malays only.
The divide across the races were pronounced during Dr Mahathir's time.
It is also worth noting that Dr Mahathir during his time as Prime Minster enforced the Internal Security Act in Operasi Lalang when many of the opposition leaders (most of which are Chinese and minority) are detained and apparently reneged on many promises to Chinese such the likes of...
Working through the divisions and bitter past, the leaders of different parties and advocates come through to form a coalition called Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), consisting of the Democratic Action Party (formed mainly by the Chinese), People's Justice Party, National Trust Party and Malaysian United Indigenous Party to amplify their message to the public, the public whose every vote counts.
Ad on that level with the public, the election results have shown that majority of the citizens have chosen to put those differences to oust the greater evil (in this case the incumbent Njib) in favour of the greater good (or lesser evil if you may call it).of Dr Mahahatir
United we stand
divided we fall
2. Burying the hatchet
During Dr Mahathir 's campaigning, he mentioned he will be handing over the reins to Anwar, the very person he has sent to jail during his first tenure as a Prime Minister.
Some context to this...
Rewind back to history in 1998, the then Prime Minster Dr Mahathir had sacked his finance minister, Anwar and the latter was put away for apparent corrupt practices and sodomy that amount to almost 15 years in prison.
That's a hell of someone's life in prison.
Anwar was then put back into the jail for yet another charge of sodomy by ex Prime Minister Najib (who had recently lost the elections) as an apparent bid to keep him out of politics.
It takes a lot to resolve that animosity on both parties into productive collaborative partnership.
3. Fairly tale ending can be a reality
Hope is not all lost.
For the many Malaysians who left their home country in search for a better life and many nonchalant ones who said that the power remains with the incumbent with the obstacles by Najib to tip the scale in his favour from the last minute gerry meandering to the road works on the heavily congested causeway from Singapore to Malaysia would have deterred many voters.
And thanks for social media, we also heard the cases of numerous overseas Malaysians whose postal votes were delivered to them at the last minute and it would be hard for any international delivery to meet the voting cut off time. Also for those who experienced identity thefts where their votes were already cast for them even before they vote legitimately.
But they all made it happen.
So yes, fairly tale ending can be a reality if you take an active part it it.
(Note: I have put ending as italics because I think it's not the end yet. Walking the talk is important.)
This victory is particularly emotional for many others and myself (I'm not a Malaysian by the way) because it shows that the tides can be changed and hopes can be inspired. That collective sense of a purpose, community and hope for change is electrifying. Every small step culminate to a difference. And how often can you get to witness the fruits of collective hard work?
On the other side, it has also shown ..
Power is not guaranteed.
And for the politicians, you have to constantly work to earn the trust.
The same can be said of the political scene in Singapore. We have achieved some level of prosperity and I believe that we will likely continue to do so with our drive. However the same method used to parachute Singapore into the global stage is increasingly obsolete to keep and grow its presence on the world wide stage.
It has been heavily emphaiszed that we need to be a critical thinker in order to grow our nation.
However it is not possible to nurture a critical thinker culture and stifle it in other form. We can't just extend critical and creative thinking to our professional & academic pursuits and not be a critical thinker in other aspects of your life.
It is not one dimensional and not by choice that you can choose to only critique certain things. True maturity shines when you can be comfortable with healthy criticisms and yet able to dialogue on it.
In the case of the recent grilling by our historian Dr Thum, I think it is a great critical thinking example on stage but unfortunately it has been greeted with animosity and portrayed in a negative light. While I appreciate the government 's standing that it is important to maintain the integrity, I also wonder if animosity is necessary in the questioning and if it is healthy for one's need to appear righteous all the time.
(As I have mentioned earlier, you have to work to earn the trust and keep the power. It does not necessarily meant one work in an authoritarian way)
Some may have explained that a critical thinking culture may bring on a space of debate that may slow the execution of policies.
To everything we choose to embrace, there is always a price to pay.
And debates that may lead to the slowing of policies execution may not necessarily be a bad thing.
In this respect, I think Australia has taught me a lot.
For all those who are reading no matter where you are. Maybe this is time to question a little more and re-think what we want for ourselves.
The Power is with the People, always.