here’s my confession. and after everything that’s taken place since yesterday, one I am not very proud of.
yesterday, my finger was not blue.
i have always believed that politics would interest me as much as cleaning the toilet would. i could never really understand as a child why it mattered to so many people and growing up without the influence of politically active people, i always saw myself as a vote that didn’t matter. that my 1 tiny vote would in no way make a difference in this sea of votes that were already deciding who my government would be. i didn’t even really care who the government was, and had no idea how big a part it played in the life we have in this country.
by the time I started educating myself on what was going on, it was already too late for me to register and vote for the ge13. i then thought, that’s alright. i’ll just choose to say that i stand for not being governed and continue feeling like my little vote wouldn’t make a difference. but denial can only last so long.
yesterday, i went to a polling center. i stood around and watched the crowd; alive and passionate; standing for the change they so deeply wanted to see. i saw people of all ages/races, coming together, united. and then someone asked me, assuming I had already voted; where I went to cast my ballot. then it hit me. i was ashamed. ashamed to say I wasn’t registered. ashamed to say I didn’t vote. so ashamed, i kept my hands tucked in my pockets the entire time, hoping no one would pay attention to my “indelible” ink-free fingers.
i stayed up with my housemates past midnight, waiting patiently for the votes to be counted. we watched together as BN won seat after seat. we saw them cheating, lying, doing all they could to hold on to their power. we saw the count get to 111, and experienced the wave of disappointment together.
i never in my life thought I would feel so passionately for my country in a political way. but yesterday, i was proven wrong. i cared. i cared more than anything in that moment, that the people got the justice they rightfully deserved. it wasn’t about politics, it was about us.
why didn’t my vote matter before? my vote was as important as anybody else’s. i personally know many people in my life, my generation, who probably have the same views as i do, but just like me, aren’t registered either. i’ve heard the many excuses that i understand too well. and i never did a thing to get them to register. i just stood idly by and watched, as they did; the government fall into the hands of the same ruling party for the 13th time in a row.
this election, the opposition won 51% of the popular vote. every vote matters. imagine the difference it would make if my fellow generation of voters took the time to get registered and cast their ballots too. we have won. maybe not in terms of parliamentary seats, but that is merely a statement of how unjust our system is. not how we, as a nation, feel.
the next election is in 5 years. in these 5 years, i will first register myself to vote, and then try to get the people who have been as lazy or ignorant as me to do the same. that change i make to myself may influence others in my life and that counts as more than just one vote.
yesterday, i learnt a lesson. today, i am forever changed.
i guess it makes complete sense, that politics and toilet cleaning are still 2 of the same thing. a hassle, dirty, smelly, not fun, but yet rewarding once dealt with. not to mention completely necessary too (well, until there really is no government and no one has to vote). i promise to do my part in beautifying our toilet, the next time it calls for a cleaning.
on a side note, i could not be more proud to call myself a penangite or penang lang. i have always known that the place i refer to as my hometown is magical in some ways. the area i stay in has not fallen to bn. neither has the majority of the state (: i see this as part of the silver lining.