Why I will not move on — Lishan Low

May 16, 2013

MAY 16 — 1. Barisan Nasional (BN) does not have political legitimacy

There are two elements to legitimacy — procedural and substantive legitimacy. BN fails on both counts.

Procedural legitimacy requires that the instituted election mechanisms (however unfair) are carried out and complied with to the fullest extent. This means that even with an uneven delineation of constituencies and a questionable electoral roll, if the elections had been conducted in a professional manner, the results would have been procedurally legitimate by account of the “rules of the game.”

Nevertheless, even on this count, BN has failed to adhere to its own heavily biased and terribly unfair procedure. Allegations of ballot boxes disappearing, double voting, and ballot stuffing mar the elections purely on a procedural level. Moreover, a widespread and fairly indiscreet campaign of vote-buying is illegal and further taints the electoral process. So even if you ask me to accept the grossly unfair procedure that BN themselves have instituted, I cannot grant that the outcome was legitimate.

Substantive legitimacy on the other hand, has more to do with perception. The people, the rakyat, themselves need acknowledge that BN has a legitimate mandate to rule. Here, you cannot say that gerrymandering or a dirty electoral role are merely facts that have to be “lived with” and can only be changed in Parliament (ergo, wait till GE14). If the process itself is not perceived by the rakyat as fair and free, there is no sense in suggesting that the outcome it produces is legitimate. Furthermore, given that BN LOST the popular vote, that itself is enough grounds to discard the entire elections as an irredeemable sham.

So to those who argue that gerrymandering cannot be legally challenged (yes I am referring very specifically to a particular camp of people), I say ay, of course it can’t be legally challenged. Given that reality, wouldn’t it make sense that we call the election what it truly was in the first place — a gigantic sham! And shouldn’t it then follow that we should not accept the outcome of GE13 and demand a re-election, along with the decimation of the Election Commission?

2. The voice and dignity of every Malaysian is at stake

What is at stake is more than just five more years of BN hegemony. What is at stake is the dignity and voice of every Malaysian, not just those that voted for the opposition. For far too long, Malaysians allowed evil-doers in our country to rob us of our dignity. We have accepted half-hearted and two-faced responses to demands for change and convinced ourselves that we can live with it. Finally, we have the opportunity to call their bluff, to expose Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his merry gang for what they truly are — plunderers and criminals. How can we stay silent any longer and allow BN to continue on in their ways, occasionally placating us with insincere promises of reform and transformation. If the aftermath of their victory is anything to go by, we know and we see that nothing has or will change. Race continues to be used as a weapon to stir up division in the country, the same group of incompetent miscreants gets appointed into top ministerial positions, and no attempt whatsoever has been made to address the ever-rising tide of allegations of electoral fraud.

Never forget as well that every inch given to BN, the more ground the opposition loses in its struggle for meaningful transformation. Moving on is akin to surrender, like a tiger that has successfully overcome its prey but suddenly decides to let it go, or a boxer who has overwhelmed his opponent but leaves the ring before the buzzer goes off. It is unthinkable that we should allow BN space to regroup, to continue on with “business as usual,” rewarding its supporters and striking fear into the hearts of those who “betrayed” them.

3. The least among us cannot afford to move on

Five years is a long time. Quite a lot of good can be accomplished, even more harm can be inflicted. Our struggle against BN is not just a struggle for power, it is a struggle for justice. When we go to the ballot box, we don’t just fight for our own well being but the well being the least among us.

There are many among us who cannot move on. They are stuck in a perpetual cycle of hardship and depravity. I am talking about the natives of Sarawak whose homes are virtually stripped from beneath their feet. Theirs is a home that cannot be returned. The moment they are forced from it, the land will be desolated. The richness of the forests will be plundered to feed the greed of monsters in our land.

I am talking about the 168 house owners that will be evicted from their houses tomorrow morning. Theirs was a fight with the odds stacked against them. The avarice of private developers and the inadequacy of our justice system robbed these house owners and their families of their hard earned property.

I am talking about multitude of minorities that have been withheld citizenship even after being in the country for generations. At the same time, identity cards are dispensed freely to those whom BN finds agreeable.

Anyone of us could be in such positions right now, yet most of us are not. We live in relative comfort, we have lived for a long time under the BN government and have got along fine, save a few complaints. But the least among us are not afforded such luxuries. They can’t move on. They are stuck. So do not tell these people to move on. They deserve a voice and we owe it to them to fight on.

4. I will not be complicit to the crimes of BN and the EC

Malaysians cannot no longer afford to turn a blind eye. By doing so we are choosing to wilfully ignore the injustices wrought by BN and the Election Commission. We are choosing to allow the perpetuation of an authoritarian regime legitimising it self via a pseudo democratic process. If we truly want a democratic process we must be willing to fight for it. If we do not, if we insist on moving on, I believe that we inadvertently become complicit to the crime. The reality is this, Malaysians: we do not live in a democracy. And unless we fight to have democratic processes actually implemented, BN will continue to control the political levers, allowing them to maintain a perception of legitimacy and they will continue to plunder our beloved country until she has nothing left to give. At that point, there will be nothing left to move on to.

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