I was glued to my chair that rainy evening, busy editing my songs when I heard my parents’ commotion in the living room, talking about someone’s death. I was curious and worried as for the past couple of months, many of our relatives had passed away. And I was not around to attend their funeral.
I went down and saw them staring at the TV. Sarawak’s 5th Chief Minister Adenan Satem had passed away. He died of heart complications that Wednesday afternoon (11 January 2016), just two weeks shy of his 73rd birthday.
The great son of Sarawak has been described as the best chief minister the state had. He who held the post for nearly three years has contributed greatly to Sarawak. He spoke openly about autonomy for Sarawak and the rights of Sarawakians.
Fondly known as Tok Nan, he had done much to the rural communities by giving bigger allocations for infrastructure development. His rakyat rallied behind him as he brokered greater autonomy for the state and dealt with long-standing issues such as recognition of native land rights. A few days before his passing, the great leader was still talking about autonomous rights, education and his rakyat.
In a mark of respect, on the day of his funeral, flags were flown at half-mast. Our state government declared a seven-day mourning period following his death. His demise is a loss to Sarawak, but we will always be grateful for his deeds and contributions to the state.
The popular leader had a way with words and his sense of humour as well as toxic remarks on things at times raised eyebrows. There is no leader quite like him. His successor – Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg or Abang Jo – certainly has very large shoes to fill. It is now up to the elected representatives to carry the state forward and fulfil his aspirations for the state.
His death hit Sarawakians like a tonne of bricks. And today, many Sarawakians are still coming to grips with the fact that they have lost their highly-regarded leader. Our prayers go out to the family and may his soul through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
On a separate note, millions out there are addicted to politics. Some people are fervent followers of all things political, while some are interested in politics but would prefer not to discuss it for fear of offending people. And for the longest time, I was one of those who is simply apathetic and couldn’t care less about voting and the general state of things.
I used to think that being interested in any political matter won’t change a thing for I see that for the longest time, caring for it and hoping for changes only generate frustration and pessimism. And when talking about Malaysia’s Barisan National (BN) political party, all you will get is HATE.
However, people often tell me that our opinions matter a lot and defending a candidate and voting for him/her can make an actual difference. I was 25 and all I cared at that time was about myself; focusing on my own situations rather than examining any political issues. The struggle was real.
At that time, I decided that it is not worth it to vote or get involved in politics. And I cared more about being realistic. I mean for decades, despite knowing which political party is the strongest, we hardly have a reliable source of sufficient information to back our decision between two candidates. The uneducated ones won’t know. Those in the rural areas have no clue. But they are forever hopeful that things will change.
And the opposition’s vote is always overridden by the government’s. I find that funny because based on my observations over the years, the number of people who are against the government is more than those who are with, which got me thinking, at this rate, shouldn’t the votes hold heavier weight, highest importance and the bigger number?
“Well, that’s politics for you,” people would say to me.
Like it or not, politics is worth paying attention to. Today, I do care a little about politics, but only on matters that I care deeply about. And I keep tab of what the government is doing. But I would rather not talk about it as I prefer not to know other people’s take on politics. Talking about politics is not my idea of a casual conversation. I am sure of course, that they would have very valid points and I respect them. But there is no such thing as a friendly conversation about politics. It usually turns into a debate that I am not interested in as I don’t like the idea of shoving my ideas about politics in someone’s face.
You see, politics is something that affects literally everything in our lives. And the decisions politicians make are the ones that directly influence every tiny detail of our daily existence. Tok Nan walked the talk. And I am very grateful for my autonomous rights as a Sarawakian and benefits that I get as a Bumiputra in Malaysia. And thus, I, of course, do not want to live in a world without any government at all.
More people voting means corruption is less likely. And it should be fine by all that our responsibility stops at the ballot box, f we even get that far. But to vote and help make a difference, people should be given the freedom to support their candidates full heartedly.
People shouldn’t vote for a candidate because their parents, friends or head of the kampung ask them to. People should be allowed to have their own views and belief. They shouldn’t be clouded by petty debates on why they should vote who through someone else’s eyes. They shouldn’t be convinced to vote for someone else’s choice. Otherwise, if that candidate turns out to be a douche who is obsessed with power, your neck is on the line. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a choice. Let them make theirs with their own voice without interference.
A big chunk of Malaysians might not be big fans of the BN coalition, but Tok Nan has managed to prove himself as a rare leader in Malaysia that walks the talk. He delivered his promises. His brand as “a different kind of politician” was so strong that it had changed my mind and view on politics and politicians. And Abang Jo certainly has his work cut out for him.
Politics preys on moral outrage and the lust for power. Even if you are not a politician, whatever you do, wherever you go, whoever you deal with, subtly or not, politics affect your lives as you will need to play the political game to survive.