I missed what may probably have been the most important event in Malaysian history in my lifetime. I was on a plane to Vancouver when the 14th Malaysian general election was taking place. Of course I was praying long before this day and kept shooting up silent prayers as we headed for Tokyo and on to Vancouver.
One of the two movies I watched on the plane was Darkest Hour (2017). It reminded me of how desperate England’s plight was at the beginning of the Second World War. Looking East, they saw a Europe completely in Nazi hands. And West was a neutral America that couldn’t give them any help. And before the miracle of Dunkirk, the British Army was about to be annihilated/captured by the Germans; it was indeed Britain’s darkest hour. The climax of the movie saw Churchill deciding not to give in to despair but choosing to lead the country to fight on. The movie helped me experience afresh the overwhelming odds and the despair of England in that dark hour and reminded me of the need to choose what is right even in the face of overwhelming odds. And how, once in a while, God helps us beat the odds.
Many of us felt the same frustrations as we faced the 14th General Election. The odds were against a change of government in so many ways. Indeed as the voting proceeded there were so many stories of things done to prevent the people from voting. Like 2008, I was preparing a piece to encourage those who were fighting against racism and corruption and who believed that we needed a change of government to do that. With all the gerrymandering, I thought that we would make progress but fall short of regime change. Like 2008, I was mistaken. In 2008 we made substantial progress when I thought it would be status quo. In 2018 there will be a change of government.
Maybe I am older, maybe I know the weaknesses of the human heart — I told myself I wouldn’t be too disappointed if we lost and I wouldn’t be too happy if we won. So, no, I am not overly happy, but partly because of shock. Like many, it is taking time to sink in that we have for the first time since Independence, a new coalition in government. And we all know it’s much easier to win an election than to rule a country. I am also very aware of the power of power to corrupt. It is probable that some way down the line, the present ruling coalition will lose the plot and we will have to vote for change again. Still, the nation was long overdue for a reboot. Today, we have a chance for a new start. Thank you Jesus.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
(The Times They Are A-Changin’, Bob Dylan)