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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ijok - quickie thoughts from a different continent

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Being a continent away from this Selangor state assembly constituency, the only news Walski gets about Ijok is from the various online sources, both mainstream, not-so mainstream and of course from the usually visited blogs. Being that over the last few days, Walski's access to the Internet has been sporadic, at best, and most of time when online, work-related matters take first priority, the following observations may seem a little skewed. Probably off-mark altogether.

But Walski thinks they are valid observations, nonetheless.

Observation #1: Most, if not all, the issues being brought up, have little to do with Ijok itself
Rather, they seem to be about personalities belonging to the two parties contesting for the seat. Political mudslinging, of course, comes part and parcel with any elections. For example, the question of the contestant's race/religion. What the fuck has that got to do with how effective an elected representative one would make? PKR has put up Khalid Ibrahim as a candidate - Malay/Muslim, obviously - and the BA (Barisan Alternative) spin on this is that the constituency has been longing for an UMNO (i.e. Malay/Muslim) candidate, but instead an MIC one has been nominated.

Okay... so does that mean an effective non-Muslim assemblyman somehow doesn't quite cut it, compared to a Muslim assemblyman, regardless of the latter's capabilities?

It's either that, or the spin that the Ijok elections are more about Najib vs. Anuar Ibrahim, and the respective coalitions they represent. Neither of them are standing for the seat. But Walski figures it makes for interesting political fairy-tale spinning.

But seriously, what do the Ijok residents themselves want for the elected State assemblyman to achieve, if elected? Perhaps this has been answered somewhere, but wasn't seen by Walski (see disclaimer above). But if the elections is for the Ijok state seat, shouldn't the issues be about what the respectives candidates can do for the area?

There are a few more examples of Ijok-irrelevant issue mongering, but Walski's not got the luxury of time right now.

Then again, this is Malaysian politics. Go figure.
(more observations in the full post)

Observation #2: RM 36 mil of overnight development is somehow NOT vote buying
It's one thing when this assertion is made by BN (which, of course, they have), but when it comes from the Election Commission, something smells fishy. Or ratty. Both, even. Why would RM 36mil of works suddenly be mobilized right around election time? It would be interesting to find out how much has been spent in the area, per annum, over the last 4 years, in contrast. Seriously folks, any idiot will recognize this as currying the voters' favor. Fishing for votes, is what Walski thinks the official term is.

Of course, such overnight sensational works simply underlines BN's assertion that they bring development to the area, better than the opposition ever could. Yeah, right.

The argument goes that these developments were already earmarked for the Ijok area. And it is simply by some divine, miraculous coincidence that they were scheduled the week between nomination day and voting day. Look at it another way. Could the Selangor state executive (BN-ruled) be so stupid as to pull an age-old stunt like this, as a means of convincing their constituents?

It begs the question of which is the bigger idiot: Selangor BN, or the people of Ijok?

Observation #3: At the end of the day, it's all about politics and the parties that play the game
Call Walski cynical, but it's not really about the local elections anyway, is it? What's more important is the fight between the political parties represented. That's the way the Malaysian voting public seemed to have been conditioned over the years. The incumbent will always have the upper hand, particularly if the party the incumbent candidate belongs to is the ruling party in the state and/or country. 50 years of independence, and our political system has not matured one iota. Rather, the overall political mentality seems to have actually regressed.

Thuggish behavior exhibited by some of the supporters (you know who they are, so no point mentioning who), heavy handed tactics of intimidation... these things have probably been happening for the longest time. The BIG difference is that these idiotic acts of intimidation get reported for the whole nation to see, courtesy of the democratization of news and information. Thugs, however, are not know to have much of grey matter, so their actions go on as usual, oblivious to the fact that for once, their stupidity is being reported.

Well, by the time Walski returns home to Malaysia, the Ijok elections would be 24 hours away. Walski chooses to just sit and watch as the maddening 76% voter turnout go out on Saturday to determine who will represent the constituents hopes and dreams for the next term.

Or until the elected representative kicks the bucket.

Walski is non-partisan. He is neither a BN supporter, nor a BA supporter. Walski votes based on issues. An a good inititiative along these lines is something that lawyer Haris Ibrahim has recently put together: the People's Parliament. Go check it out. It will take a long time, however, before things can change. A start, though, needs to be made at some point.

But the sad truth is that Malaysian voters, by and large, have not really voted with their heads. Some with their hearts, but most out of sheer loyalty for their favored party. Fuck the issues - it's the party first, foremost, and always.

And Walski predicts Ijok won't be any different.