The world pays little attention to Malaysia. But on May 5, it should. That is the day that Malaysia’s 13 million voters, of whom 20% are casting ballots for the first time, will choose a new parliament and decide their nation’s future. Without question, these will be the most important elections in Malaysia’s history, as well as the closest and most hard-fought. For the first time, there is a strong and united opposition, and Malaysia’s voters have a genuine choice. Voter enthusiasm is high, and both government and especially opposition rallies are attracting people in the tens of thousands.
As every Malaysian would have known by now, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament and hence paved the way for the nation’s thirteenth general elections. With that in mind, it is hoped that both the major political coalitions (Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat) as well as regional parties will engage their opponents in a constructive and meaningful manner, instead of the dirty tactics that we have seen — most especially during the Mahathir era.
If the father of the nation was alive today, one wonders what he would make over the present tug-of-war over the “naming rights” of our 55 th Merdeka Day celebration. What would the late Tunku Abdul Rahman say of the words and actions of some so–called leaders who have soiled Merdeka Day and the memory of his legacy and our nationhood? Never has Merdeka Day — a unifying factor for all Malaysians — if only for a day — been relegated to a source of divide and a pawn in the political one-upmanship of those to whom we have entrusted this country to. From slogans, songs, themes and logos, who has the right to claim exclusivity in naming our National Day festivities?