Elections In An Immature Nation

Posted on April 21, 2007

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One of our most dreaded moments is the election period, when the entire country transforms into a political madhouse and all other activities take a backseat to accommodate the few individuals who have mastered the art of disguising empty rhetoric as “fiery speeches”, and the thousands of people who have nothing better to do than to listen in. During the campaigning period we pray for the haze to return, if only to cover up the visual pollution of poster upon poster of aspiring candidates hung across telephone lines, trees and streetlights. Flagpoles of political parties add further clutter and tackiness to the already garish Malaysian cityscape. This lawless and haphazard approach to political advertising highlights the very grim reality that Malaysia is still far from reaching a mature political culture.

Politics everywhere, be it France, Australia or neighbouring Thailand, bring out emotional fervor even in the most rational among us, but Malaysians seem to display a distinctively ‘amok’ quality in their expression of political allegiance. To march on the streets as a show of unity is one thing, but to be pointing fingers and shouting, calling rude names and mocking each other is at best pedestrian, and at worst, infantile. The only positive thing about all this is that this juvenile behaviour is equally distributed among supporters of both the Government and the Opposition. Amidst this frenzied atmosphere of counter attacks, physical assaults, schoolyard taunts, guarantees of progress and even promises of Heaven, we comfort ourselves to the fact that all will be back to normal in no time.