Saturday, May 12, 2018

Butthurt Notes 3: To Infinity and Beyond

Previously, from Butthurt Notes:

I planned a small resistance against BN bots for GE14, started selling t-shirts out of spite, and was swept in by non-partisan, non-governmental grassroots movements to bring people home to vote.

Read Butthurt Notes: Origin Story here

The BN campaign was immensely flawed. Stupid choices in imagery, iconography, narrative, messaging and deployment of resources. They also managed to annoy the people with pettiness and supposedly unfair advantage over institutions such as the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, the youth movements brewing online are making voting fun. I also discovered that the maturity of online young people at a level that is unprecedented.

Read Butthurt Part 2: Big Little Mistakes here.

So yes, I was impressed with the young people I saw and dealt with online. They are smart, aware, generous and compassionate. I began to see an idea, a vision, a hope. That no matter what the result of the election, the point for this whole thing I'm doing is to provide support - space and opportunity so these young people can reclaim their voice, their power and right what is wrong.

I dreamed of a day when the age where we wait for a hero to save us all is over. Even if it's Dr M, we should not allow responsibility for our situation and environment fall into the hands of others. I have often felt frustrated with others not sharing or understanding what I want out of my people, my society. It seems that after I gave up years ago, they all grew up into these amazing beings of my dreams.

The X Factor

Talking to these young people, I don't have to explain a lot of things. They pick up things very quickly. They watched Marvel Cinematic Universe movies for 10 years and know the ideas and ideals of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and the rest.

The older folks (my generation and beyond) remembered the days of Dr M, and knew what he stood for, both good and bad.

Surrounded by these wonderful Malaysians, I did not have to do much but just place my trust in them and allow myself to be carried by their energy and spirit.

Fear vs Faith

Meanwhile, BN's camp showed immense fear. It started with a jittery Najib announcing the dissolution of Parliament. He seemed so... scared. I could not understand why. I tried prying some information from Government contacts and all I could glean was that it would be a very close election with BN winning in every projected scenario. Only one contact said Pakatan will win, by 7 seats. AFter which, PAIS-M would join BN or BN will get 7 parliamentarians to jump.

I also noticed an absence of BN leaders. They were uncharacteristically quiet, save for Najib and Zahid. KJ had his dumb videos, and Hishamuddin responded when Rafidah Aziz called out his Ministry. Where were the rest? It's understandable to keep Ahmad Maslan quiet, but they had 133 parliamentarians and all the ministers and deputy ministers?

Where is the thing where the Agriculture Minister saying, "Hey, bitch, we did this for poor farmers and now everyone's livin' large, motherfuckers!."

Where's education, health, finance? Oh, finance did a free concert in Langkawi the same time Dr M was supposed to speak. That's a bad move for BN and adds to the 'annoying factor'.

For most of the campaign period, it seemed as if Najib was campaigning alone. His posters suggested as much.

On the other side, Pakatan showed a unified front. They're never alone, in every speech or poster. It reminded me of an exchange between Captain America and another character in one of the Marvel movies. I am misremembering the line, and its purpose, but it was something like this:

Cap: If we want to win, the only way is to do it together.

Other Character: But what if we lose?

Cap: Then we'll lose. Together.

I put this up on Twitter not to spark the spirit of togetherness and unity, but because it was what I felt from Pakatan as well as the youth. I don't think I sparked anything, just documenting and relaying the spirit of the moment.

To me, this was the major difference between the two campaigns. BN showed fear. Pakatan and the people shared faith. In Dr M, in the future, and most importantly, in each other.

The Final Pitch

Najib and Dr M each delivered a final speech, the night before voting.

Najib offered more goodies, which I thought was insulting. He was the same guy who was handing out RM100 notes to those poor makciks. It's demeaning, reducing the people to infants who get distracted with something shiny.

To make it worse, the shiny things he was holding over our heads are poorly thought out and potentially damaging.

26 year olds and below don't have to pay tax? How many 26-year-olds make more than the taxable level? It reminded people that the young are finding irt difficult to find jobs, and the existing jobs offer low pay.

What if giant companies give all their profit to the owner's children or grandchildren through a Sdn Bhd and they take all the money as director's fees? If they don't have children, why not a willing 21-year-old? No company would pay tax, ever. This would bankrupt the country. Whose idea was this? Were they high on cocaine?

Doubling BR1M? That's old news, right? So now BR1M cost is like, RM7 billion? Doubling it means the country has to pay over RM14 billion a year. And you said we had a RM40 billion hole in the federal budget. How are you going to amke up for this, really? More taxes? You tell people we have no money, and then you want to give them money. Either you're lying or there;s a catch.

Pakatan offered holidays on Thursday and Friday. Najib offered Monday and Tuesday. Even if the people were that petty and easily bought, which one do you think they would choose? Again, who's the idiot who came up with this stuff?

And here's another one - no tolls for five days during Raya. First of all, Pakatan is offering no tolls, ever, on those same highways. Why the fuck did you lowball on this one? Secondly, it shows BN is trying to cut on the goodies, meaning they are seen as less generous and trying to cheat... again.

You might think young people are too dumb to understand this - Najib might bet on this. But no. The young people of this country immediately understood they were offered shit. A hot pile of steaming shit that constantly insults them. You go back and see how they reacted, on ANY media platform. Listen and read what they have to say on the matter.

Over in Langkawi, Dr M simply repeated the same message of the campaign, unwavering and consistent. It's a call to restore the dignity, the 'Maruah' of the country, by cleaning up corruption, arresting thieves, etc.

So on one hand, you have a clearly desperate politician offering dubious gifts, and on the other you have a statesman with a call for integrity, honour and justice.

It was Maruah vs Rasuah. I didn't coin this, but someone attributed it to me. I merely repeated it in a tweet, but it encapsulates the very essence of the campaigns of both sides.


And then voting day happened. I travelled from KL to Kuantan and voted in Paya Besar. My area is traditionally BN, but I didn't care. I couldn't forget the makciks and pakciks that the politicians failed. I couldn't fathom the inane strategies and stupid decisions made not just during the campaign, but for the past 8 or 10 years AT LEAST.

But more than anything, I have faith in the people. An empowered people is the real prize. Even if BN won, if the voters - the people - understood the power they have, no politician can ever mess with them or their country ever again.

That's what I voted for. I voted for hope in the future, guided by my faith in the people of  this country. I started this whole thing a spiteful, cynical bastard whose true power is being an asshole online. I went out of the voting station a true believer.

And now, I wake up every day to a new Malaysia.