Lord help me, it's election time
Did my civic duty. Cast my vote, but it drives me crazy that the party with the most votes doesn't always get to form the government
I broke one of my most cardinal rules: Never follow an election via Twitter.
Around 6pm, I was pulled into the hellsite thanks to a heated race for a seat which a Prime Ministerial candidate was fighting for. I became addicted to the refresh button and the next thing I knew it was midnight.
He won, but the state of democracy in Malaysia is tenuous. A hung parliament. A conservative Islamic party has gained an alarming number of seats and is bragging that they now have the government. And I’m wondering what my future will be like in this country. I, of Chinese descent. Of Christian faith.
Around 2am, I called my bible study friends. They were in the United States, so it was morning for them. I cried. They prayed for me. I still have no hope.
So, it’s 7.30am, and I’ve only been sleeping for three hours.
No, no, I’m not going to talk about politics. Not much anyway. But I’ve been noticing this tide sweeping around the world: Battles between conservatives and progressives are being fought everywhere around the world, and I wonder why I’m a progressive and why they are conservative, why we fight each other while the world melts from climate change and is this any way to run the human race.
But never mind, I exercised my right to vote, and I’m proud of that. I suspect the voter turnout in Malaysia is around 80% or so. It’s something to be proud of.
Of course, some people did it with more style than I did.
And while I may not be too thrilled by the results, I’m happy that democracy was exercised. Just 10 years ago, Malaysian politics was divided by race. The Chinese and Indian wouldn’t dare to discuss politics with the Malays. It was taboo.
Now, people they do discuss it in kopitiams around the nation. There’s more discourse, more progressive views. More interest in public policies that help the ordinary people vs rhetoric about race and rights. The opposition once only had a few seats in parliament. Like, we’re talking one or two. Now, ironically it has the most seats … but not enough to form the government.
Someone explain to me like I’m two.
Actually, don’t. I get how it works, but don’t you find it insanely annoying that eventhough a party gets the most seat, that doesn’t mean they will be the government?
Just a quick note that if you’re in a freer democracy than mine, cherish your right to vote!
Anyway, I dread every Malaysian election because they are bound to send me into a spiral of anxiety and despair. Every election I’ve voted in has been a fraught, “historic” one. For once, I’d like a boring one. Because I seriously think it has given me PTSD. Americans were really stressed out from 2016 to 2022 as polarisation, racism and uncertainty roiled the country. Imagine living through that for decades. That’s what Malaysians have gone through. I think most of us are traumatised, and I really don’t blame Malaysians for migrating overseas and ditching their citizenships.
In my search to manage this inevitable fear/sadness/despair, I turned to Google and found out that Post-Election Stress disorder is a thing.
So, according to this article, I suspect I’m a “sensitive” and “cautious” brain type. So I’ll be:
Shutting off Twitter, Whatsapp and other chatter
Avoid caffeine and nourish myself today
Take a long bike ride around the neighbourhood
I hope you have a better day than I am. Hope to write some happier things next week. Somehow.
If you’ve gone through this before I truly appreciate some tips on how to gain back your joy to create again. How do you deal with the crushing sense of … the future is f**cked?
It’s so easy (in America) to think our elections are the most fraught with nervousness and hopes and fears. Thanks for sharing your experience in Malaysia: it’s a good perspective-checker. In a lot of ways, actually, like voter turnout! Not just the hard ones. Also a help in having some kind of personal connection (and reminder) to pray outside my borders.
Great minds...I feel your pain, Liz.