Yes, boys and girls, the poster wars and mudslinging have begun... Welcome to the fun-filled run-up period towards Malaysia's 12th General Elections on March 8th, exactly one week from today.
This GE is a little special for Walski. A shocking revelation, perhaps, but Walski's one of those virgin voters. Yeah, yeah... guilty as charged... You see, since coming back to Malaysia in 1990, Walski felt he was exercising his democratic right to not vote. Well, to make a long story slightly shorter, a lot has changed in the last 18 years, and not necessarily for the better - we're more polarized than in 1990, we're becoming a little less free every day, cronyism has become a culture (second only to the afternoon yam cha sessions), and so too has high-level corruption. Which gave two choices to Walski: either shut up and take the way things are (and will continue to deteriorate), or do his little part in exacting change. Well, he chose the latter.
Which, in turn, caused two things to happen. First, Walski started to blog. And second, he decided that he should get off his fat ass and register to vote - last year, actually - and yes, he's definitely on the rolls.
But this General Election is also special for another more important reason. It's the first one where people Walski knows personally are running for office. And it's time he introduced these folks to you, so that you too, maybe, can Elect-a-Blogger...
(cyber-activists meet world, and more, in the full post)
Now, Walski is not saying that you should vote for these individuals just because they're bloggers. That would be silly, as highlighted by Walski's all-time favorite (but not contesting) cyber political party, SIPM. Nope, each one of these individuals is more than just a blogger - they're commtted activists, collectively fighting for one common cause - a better Malaysia. Walski thinks so anyway.
Unfortunately, none of the bloggers-turned-candidates will be running in the constituency Walski will be voting in. Nevermind... more importantly, you know who they are, and hopefully a little bit about why Walski would vote for them if he had the opportunity. And if you happen to be voting in one of the constituencies that they may be contesting in, at least Walski has given you an opinion so that you can make an informed choice on March 8th.
Not that giving voters the opportunity of an informed choice is something we could ever hope from the damned MSM... printed or electronic... ass-kissing wankers, the whole bunch of 'em. Maybe with the exception of Malaysiakini perhaps... but then again, they're not what would be considered very mainstream.
The first blogger is someone who probably needs no introduction. None other than, Malaysia's own granddaddy of bloggers... Jeff Ooi, contesting for the P50 parliamentary seat of Jelutong, on the DAP ticket.
Walski first met Jeff during one of the hearings for the now infamous Jeff/Rocky v. NaSTy Pee case. If Walski recalls correctly, it was just over a year ago, on February 22nd, 2007. It was also the first time Walski met Marina M., Nuraina, Shar 101, Zorro, Shieh, Polytikus, Shanghai Stephen, and numerous other now household bloggerhood personalities. Oh, and The Press Club. How could Walski leave out that very important establishment!
Walski first stumbled onto Screenshots about a year earlier, while fuming and reading up on GoatGate - that heinous police raid on Paul's Place which ushered in 2006 on a lousy note (F#maj6 dim 4, to be exact). What immediately struck Walski was how in-tune Jeff was with what was going on, and with what was going on you that didn't hear about in the mainstream press. Plus, one other important observation: the guy never seemed to sleep!
And now that Jeff is neck deep into politics for real, Walski suspects that his sleeping hours have been cut back even further.
But more importantly, apart from what Walski had mentioned early in this post, Jeff was also a major influence for Walski to start blogging. Walski's said this once before, but thanks Jeff! Walski hopes that you kick ass in the coming polls up in Penang. And Walski will definitely be watching...
The next blogger contesting is someone that Walski shares two things in common with. First, she's also a pro-tem committee member of All Blogs, as is Walski. Second, like Walski, she's also a fan of Depeche Mode. Introducing Ms. Elizabeth Wong, contesting for the Selangor state N37 Bukit Lanjan seat, on the PKR ticket.
Like Jeff, Walski only met Elizabeth last year, and like Jeff, it was due to the GoatGate incident. Eli was one of the advocates helping out the musicians victimized by the police. And if Walski could bestow her a new middle name, it would be Activist.
Active in social conscious activism since her college days, Eli was formerly the Secretary-General of National Human Rights Society (HAKAM), a member of SUARAM, and has been involved with numerous local and regional activism inititaties. In short, she's done a lot of work trying to uphold whatever little human rights we have left in Malaysia. Just read her blog sometime - you can tell that this lady has a passion for what she believes in, albeit the passion sometimes taking an angrified tone. But who can blame her, really...
In any case, any fan of Depeche Mode is someone worth voting for... call it the unwritten Policy of Truth... Heh heh... But all kidding aside, though, Walski is confident that if elected, Elizabeth Wong will be a voice that will ring loud and clear for the people of the Bukit Lanjan constituency, speaking on their behalf.
The next blogger-contestant in the biggest reality show to hit Malaysia, is none other than Tony Pua. Unfortunately, Walski has never quite yet had the opportunity to meet Tony or to speak with him, although Walski has been to several functions with him there. But boy, Tony has definitely gotta be the smiliest candidate in the 12th General Election. Bar none. In fact, Walski has never not seen him smiling, come to think of it.
Tony will be contesting for the P106 Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat, on the DAP ticket. This guys is probably the most well-endowed candidate Walski personally knows of. Well-endowed academically and intellectually, that is (what the hell did you think Walski meant?). A graduate of Philosophy, Politics and Econmics (from Keble College, Oxford University), Tony was formerly the CEO of Singapore-listed Cyber Village Sdn Bhd. He disposed off his interests in the company when he joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP), early last year. Like any responsible politician should.
Speaking of responsibility, in case you didn't know, Tony is responsible for co-authoring DAP's 2008 shadow budget, which was released last year prior to the actual 2008 budget announcement (Tony Pua also is the DAP Secretary General's Economic Advisor). Now, Walski was told that the release of this shadow budget really rattled the folks in Barisan Nasional, because it tore to shreds BN's argument that the Opposition wouldn't be capable of administering this country. And for that jolt of reality cola, Tony Pua has to be given the lion's share of credit.
Now, isn't all that alone reason enough to vote for Tony Pua, and ensure that a sensible and intelligent person gets put into Parliament? Not to mention the smile, of course...
Another blogger-activist that is running for office this time around is Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the well-known bi-lingual blogger. Nik Nazmi (apparently known as Budu to his friends, according to bobjots : redux), will be running for the Selangor state N32 Seri Setia seat, on the PKR ticket. Nik is another one of those whom Walski has never met, but his reputation certainly precedes him.
A law graduate from King's College in London, Nik has been active with PKR since 2006, and is currently the Private Secretary to Anwar Ibrahim, PKR's advisor and de facto chief. He has also been active in his own community, setting up a volunteer tuition center in Desa Mentari, Kelana Jaya.
Nik Nazmi is also the youngest among the five blogger-candidates that Walski is introducing here, and a ripe young age of 26. But his determination, experience and commitment is the most important thing to focus on. It is a common opinion that youth is wasted on the young. Not so with Nik Nazmi. In the few short years that he has been involved with community work and politics, Walski has to say that he's very impressed with what Nik has done, and has no problem whatsoever in endorsing this candidate.
Now speaking of impressive, Nik has recently released a campaign video, which Walski feels he should link to here.
Here is one young man that really has grasped the power of communication freedom offered by the internet. Something that most of the old foggies (and young foggies, too) in Barisan Nasional just can never get. This kind of positive forward looking attitude is reason enough why Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad is Walski's candidate of choice for the Seri Setia seat. Being a blogger, too, is a plus, of course.
Last, but certainly not least, is one blogger-candidate whom the whole nation will be looking at with great interest. Not only does this guy have the political balls to do what he's doing this General Election, but he's doing it going against a gigantuan BN propaganda machinery in the P131 Rembau parliamentary constituency. Who else, but Badrul Hisham Shaharin, better known in the bloggerhood as Chegubard, who will also be running on the PKR ticket.
And yes, this is the gentleman that will be going head-on with Khairy Jamaluddin, the Infamous SIL (great name for a rapper though). Prior to the announcement of the dissolution of parliament, Chegubard had written a letter to Khairy, challenging him to contest wherever the SIL would be contesting. KJ, of course, rebuffed this, saying he didn't know who this Chegubard is, and frankly didn't care.
So who is Chegubard anyway? Well, apart from being a very vocal blogger, Badrul Hisham Shaharin holds a teaching diploma, and has taught in several schools. He has been involved in politics since the 1998 Reformasi period, and at one time was the Youth Information Chief for PKR.
Among the blogger candidates Walski has chosen to highlight, Chegubard is probably the most trained activist of the lot, having gone for numerous seminars and training programs around the world. He recently returned from Korea, where he was furthering his studies.
Chegubard is also actively involved with GERAK (Movement for Democracy and Anti Corruption), which he helped set up, and is currently its Executive Coordinator.
Now, you may be wondering why Walski chose to feature Chegubard last of all. Well... no special reason, except maybe saving the best for last. And the fight in Rembau is one that the entire nation will have some interest in. KJ, as we know, is one individual whom has grown prominent without ever being elected. He won the Deputy UMNO Youth position uncontested (so that doesn't count for squat), and has never contested in any election.
KJ's prominence in the Malaysian mindshare and politics is for no other reason than being the Prime Minister's Son-In-Law (hence, the acronym SIL). Plain and simple. He is, however, quite charismatic and a rather good orator. But charisma and talk is something that Malaysia needs least in present time. Hot air may be great for ballooning, but not for getting important things done. And in the bigger picture, being active in FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) is simply not important enough. It's action, not talk, that counts in Walski's book. And action is something that Chegubard can proudly claim to have done, having been active in many socially important initiatives between 1998 and now.
And so like the rest of Malaysia probably, Walski will have his attention tuned to what happens in the P131 Rembau parliamentary race. It's an uphill task for Chegubard, for sure, going against the monstrous ringgit-driven election machinery that has been put in place to ensure an easy victory for the Infamous SIL. The guy that aspires to be PM before he turns 40. Power to ya, Chegubard. And God-willing, your commitment to truth and justice, which speaks for itself, will help you with your coming battle.
~ ~ ~ ~ o ~ ~ ~ ~
Walski's closing two-bits:
So there you have it... 5 blogger-candidate whom Walski personally endorses... not just because they're bloggers, but because each one of them has shown the commitment, in their own individual ways, to make this country a better one. Like them, Walski too believes that change is needed now, after way too long being under the rule of Barisan Nasional. Not that BN hasn't done much in the last four-plus decades, but because being incumbent for such a long time has made them way too arrogant and self-serving.
And it's time for a change. BN will tell you to not gamble your future by voting for the opposition. Walski thinks otherwise, that we're throwing away our future by not voting for the opposition. And recent signs, including that of gross corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and Islamization on the increase, point to the fact that the diminishing returns the people of Malaysia can expect from BN has begun to set in.
The power to determine our destiny lies not in the hands of the incumbent BN, but in our own hands. The last four years has shown that BN, while quite able to govern, cannot take Malaysia to the next level of greatness. There's too much vested self-interest and power-lust, and another 4 or 5 years is not going to change that. Power-lust and self-interest are like money in a compound interest rate bank account - they simply keep multiplying over time - unless you make a withdrawal.
Deputy PM Najib Abdul Razak said something recently which is very true - "anyone can make promises". That anyone, however, includes BN. Just look at what was promised in 2004, and judge for yourself if any of the things promised have come to fruition. If for no other reason, Malaysia is more fragmented in many more ways today than it has ever been.
It's one thing to ask for more time if there are signs that actual effort is being made towards fulfilling those promises. Making things happen in the last 6 months just so that you can claim this that and the other during election campaigns simply doesn't cut it for Walski anymore. It just shows that there is no sincerity in keeping your promises, merely buying more time to stay in power.
And the time has come to make a major withdrawal from our compound interest bank account. And not loose change, either. Real change is what Malaysia needs.
The grouping of five individuals here, from which you can Elect-a-blogger, mirrors what change requires - fresh perspectives, new ideas, and down-to-Earth gritty commitment. Loose change is easy... every pocket's got some to spare.
Real hard change is another kettle of fish altogether...
Elect-a-blogger on March 8th... our collective future depends on it.