Recently some of my long-lost friends have all of a sudden contacted me on-line and wanted to talk about politics. “How do you see the coming election?” “Do you think there will be a change of government?” “Do you see a chance of changing the government?” are some of their questions.
I usually dismiss their messages on the excuse of being at work, or busy taking care of the kids or not convenient to talk. It is not that I am being unfriendly. I just want to avoid a face-off over different political viewpoints under the current feverish political atmosphere with friends whom I have not seen for so many years.
The election fever is rising as we enter the campaigning period. Candidates of different parties are trying their utmost to woo the voters. They are engaged in haranguing each other and it is difficult for people to avoid getting into the political stream.
In a democratic society, people enjoy freedom of expression to state their political stand, their views and ideas. There is no absolute right or wrong.
Back to reality. There are many die-hard political supporters who just follow blindly. They are deadly firm in their political stand. If you don’t consider the “larger interest”, don’t follow the “mega direction”, you are the running dog of your race and your sin is unforgivable.
Such examples is common on social media. There have been numerous bullying incidents due to different political stands. Such incidents also occur in my WhatsApp chat group of former schoolmates. Some schoolmates who express support of Barisan Nasional have been gang-attacked by Pakatan Harapan supporters which leads to the exit of the “minority” group.
As a matter of fact, such thing is common among my friends. I learned from my colleagues that they also find it common in their social chat group or among schoolmates.
It is of course good to be concerned about politics because politics is part of life. However, it would be bad if a blind follower becomes a radical supporter. In fact, politics is only part of our life and it is unnecessary to break up relations just because of different political stands.
Those who support Dacing can continue to follow Najib’s great policy while those who want a change can proceed to support Pakatan “to save the nation.” Maybe we have friends or relatives who hold different political stand from ours, there is no need to attack them with crude language or to ridicule them. If you turn up to cast your vote, you have discharged your responsibility of a citizen. We have to respect the political stand of others, even if the outcome of the election is not of our choice.
We should take note that Malaysia’s political environment has gone to the extremes. Recently, an old MCA member was pushed off the stage by a Pakatan supporter. The incident escalated into a battle of words between supporters of both camps on social media. This has left us with a strong message to reflect on it. Do we, especially Chinese, desire a future society that is torn apart?
Besides hatred, there is distortion of our values. Many Pakatan supporters believe that since the uncle had made a mistake, he should be taught a lesson. But this involved the question of taking the law into one’s hands. What if the old man died? The consequences would be unthinkable.
Subsequently, candidates of both parties Wee Ka Siong and Liew Chin Tong calmed down the situation with some common sense and agreed that the incident should be resolved through legal means.
Of course, not everything is within the control of political leaders. Nevertheless, they should not ignore their social influence and responsibility. By voicing out their view at an appropriate time could calm down certain unnecessary political conflicts. I earnestly hope that our leaders on both sides of the divide would use their influence to correct the political atmosphere. We don’t need a heated political atmosphere; we just need the campaigning to be carried out in a civilized way.