You know, I've never felt like this country is my home than the last few weeks.
A few weeks ago, I didn't know what to do. Some of my friends were targeted by BN's thugs. The 1MDB scandal, and the way the country was run was a cause for major concern. Projections for the future were not good. I saw the numbers and the scenario projections some were brandishing about and I decided my decision to migrate as soon as I had enough money was sound. Most of my friends have also left the country and sometimes I felt as if I'm alone. I worked harder than my doctors advised, so I could finally make the move away from Malaysia.
Even Dr M came out of retirement at 92 years of age to deal with these issues, among other things, head on. I, on the other hand, was planning on running away.
The election was coming up, and I had no plans on voting. I had given up. I understood the odds, as well as the kind of evil tricks that can be employed to secure power. Also, I view elections as a bunch of rich people fighting another bunch of rich people, to see who gets richer afterwards.
The pawns, the victims, have always been the people. It was abuse on a grand scale. Evil that plays not just with people's future, but their hopes and dreams.
I decided to do what I can. And what I can do is very little. At the very least, I could help my friends by being an asshole.
One of my pet peeves of BN's campaigns was the use of bots and cybertroopers. They are annoying and in my opinion, pee into the data pool. How can Najib know what the real sentiment is, if his own goons skew the numbers with their presence? These cybertroopers and bots also harass people, making them hate BN even more. This act of stupidity that is also insulting everyone's intelligence is extremely grating. At least to me.
So I decided to get a few friends to go bot hunting for GE14. The idea was to expose how the bots and cybertroopers operated to the online mob. How to identify them, classify them, and how to deal with them. Bots and cybertroopers waste everyone's time. So the idea is to waste their time instead.
Cybertroopers function by having one person managing multiple accounts at the same time. A team of say, 20, could be handling 400 accounts or more. Some work in shifts. Whatever time he or she spends engaging one person is a small drain off his or her resources. If he or she has to reregister an account that was banned or reported as spam, then that's more time wasted.
If a lot of people participated in the bot hunt, I was sure the machinery would fail its intended function.
I made my plans public on social media for a few reasons. And this activity was the only thing I thought I could do.
And so, I made a few jokes, as is my custom, and the cybertroopers descended upon me. Perhaps my earlier challenge piqued their interest.
I found a t-shirt design I did in 2008 and uploaded it as a joke. It was the face of Dr M combined with Che Guevara with the caption Che Det under it.
Some cybertroopers, as well as perhaps well-meaning pedantic morons, decided to try and educate me on the very irony of the image, which was the point of the joke that they missed entirely. Perhaps they were also afraid of anything that would make Dr M or the image of Dr M an icon. I don't know because I can't read minds, even ones that are as simple as that of a cybertrooper.
Out of spite and boredom, I decided to actually print the t-shirt and start selling it. It was a moderate success, and I almost covered my cost - which was my one goal- within two weeks.
And then the Election Commission announced that voting will be on a Wednesday. This triggered me. Earlier, Najib and friends redrew the parliamentary areas in Malaysia to what seems to be their benefit. Some analysis showed BN only needed to notch less than 20% of total votes to win in certain areas to capture the federal Government again.
I have been a member of UMNO for 20 years (still eligible for UMNO Youth), and I have never seen a sitting UMNO president and Prime Minister use ALL of the dirty tricks at their disposal. Some, yes, but never all. By holding back, there is that gentlemanly idea of a sporting chance. I turned a blind eye all these years, because there were invisible lines they did not cross. This seemed like bullying, and I hate bullies.
I immediately vowed to go back and vote, despite my injured ass. as well as campaign against BN.
Within minutes of the announcement, some people started the non-partisan, non-governmental #PulangMengundi movement. I believe it was KlubbkiddKL (Joe) who coined the hashtag and what they were going to do - raise funds to get people to go back and vote. Joe was a former colleague of mine and I know he can drum up lots of attention to the cause. With him are also capable social media thought leaders and influencers. This movement will get traction.
I then decided to use all the profits from the sale of the t-shirt for PulangMengundi and its sister movements UndiRabu and CarpoolGE14. I announced this and sales picked up.
The intention of these movements is not to topple the Government or to support any political party, but to get people out to vote. If voting day was decided on Wednesday by some unscrupulous parties to decrease the number of voters, hopefully this will counter it.
That's all I wanted at this point. Just to increase the number of voters. I had no faith that any of this will result in anything significant, but it was a fun thing to do.
This was the turning point for me personally. I began to see Malaysians whom I derided all these years for being weak and self-defeating, step up. Within a week, the movements collected a decent sum of money and those NGO-auntie types herded the applicants and decided on a foolproof way to authenticate real voters in need of funds to get back and vote. This slapdash movement run by a ragtag team of volunteers is more transparent and efficient than 1MDB.
On my end, a miniscule corner of what's happening, I was encountering humanity on a grand scale. There were people who paid more for the t-shirts or simply sent in a small amount of money to be distributed to people going back to vote.
I was immensely touched. These were not rich people. These were people whose lives were made more difficult by questionable policies of the Government. They had less spending power, some of them work more jobs or couldn't even find jobs. The institutions and policies set up to pull them up the ladder of social mobility have failed or are failing. And yet they still shared what little they had, for something they actually believe in.
Even though we all believed firmly that BN will win, even though there was no hope. I got sappier and cheesier in my writing at the time. I don't think I could be any different in the face of such great human spirit.
What touches me is never suffering (that's why whiny Opposition people or victim mentality people always turn me off), but the human spirit in the face of great adversity.
This was genuine, not astro-turfed or manufactured or planned or staged. The thing you have to realise about these things is that inauthenticity is quickly identified and weeded out. The public shaming would be brutal. I have always complained about people being fake, about people being liars. This was the anti-thesis to that.
To Be Continued...