“Don’t be in Kuala Lumpur, after a general election.”
It has been shared through the decades, and apparently carries force as tales of the upwardly mobile set to flee KL after voting on the morning of May 9, reach me. Some, they add, won’t even bother to vote. This is not the first election I have heard of strategic family trips to coincide with polling day.
Does it still merit notice in 2018, and can we excuse the temerity?
[The capital city witnessed race riots after the 1969 General Elections, which has in ensuing elections has always raised the spectre of violence, around electiont time.]
Let’s be honest, fear is an overpowering sentiment.
And further, it is invariably a coalesce of ignorance and credible threats.
While the committed may claim the excess of ignorance when some choose to flee, the fearful point fairly about possible credible threats, which renders the situation too difficult to reject one way or the other.
When people are afraid, to belittle their feelings is cruel. While no more crueller than those disposing the fear at their doorsteps, if there are those seeking to improve the fate of fellow Malaysians, to embolden them in the face danger, imagined and real is a far nobler objective.
Though, the more pertinent question to figure out is who does the scaremongering? And why do people support them even if they cast fear in our hearts, for whatever reason?
The prime ministers of the past, especially Mahathir Mohamad, have reminded the people that danger and violence may be caused by political upheavel, and therefore encourage the rakyat to more docile paths. They have utilised it as self-serving tools even if they incapacitate several generations of Malaysians from believing they are safe in their own home due to their skin colour.
There are no easy answers in this matter.
The business of building a freer society in a repressed community is difficult and risky. It would be impossible without pitfalls, for there would be more naysayers than supporters in the proposal.
However, the job of reducing fear inside our political process is not only welcome, it is critical.
If fear clouds perception, voters will struggle to stick to their conscience. Nothing good will come from fear, or the promotion of it.
It is moving from fear to love, though amazingly difficult, which will improve the chances of any coalition seeking to remove the world’s longest serving national government.
But it will be worth the price.