This is a post that’s a little different from our regular business posting. Nic and I were involved in the general elections that happened in May – we had served as PACA or Polling Agent & Counting Agent in the last general elections and we thought that was the end of our service but no, it wasn’t to be.
Around April, we received news that PACAs were still needed and this time, in bigger numbers. So then and there, we decided we’d sign up again to help in our Bayan Baru area under the Parliamentary candidate who was running – Sim Tze Tzin (no relation to Nic though they share the same surname!).
About a few days before the actual polling date, we got a frantic call saying that could we step in to become polling agents for the army who were voting early at the nearby Kem Sungai Ara? And once we completed that duty, we were suddenly called to be Ketua PACA. Each of us would be in charge of a school and a number of PACAs.
So to cut a long story short, we experienced quite a bit of drama and madness in the days running up to the polling day.
And for the entire week running up to 9th May, Nic and I dropped all our work to focus on the efforts of training our PACAs, getting their documents ready and making sure all preparations were done. In fact, the night before the polling day, we both slept at almost 2am and woke up around 6am to give all our PACAs a “morning call” so that they wouldn’t be late for duty!
I was in charge of SKC Kwang Hwa while Nic was in charge of SK Shih Chung and together we managed some 36 team members – many of whom were first-time PACAs too. Since we were both busy, we decided to use technology instead of meeting face-to-face with all our team. We did a video conference call with those who could join us some two days before polling day to ensure everyone knew their roles and responsibilities.
However, Malaysians – all 12 million of us – came out to vote and vote in a newer, better government. I found it stressful as a Ketua PACA but in hindsight, it was all worth it! I’m glad we were part of this journey and many people whom I spoke to are still on a high, knowing that each of us contributed in our own ways to defeat a corrupted government.
When I asked friends and clients, everyone had their story to tell. We were all triumphant and wanted to share our little experience with the world. That’s why this blog post is a tribute to the unsung heroes – the people who were PACAs, who helped the PACAs and who did something instead of sitting at home and complaining!
I emailed the people on our mailing list and here are some of their responses and photos!
Lee Hok Tek says, “I was one of the PACA in Relau. I too did not expect THE win! It is a new beginning for all of us!”
A. Subra says, “Well… it was indeed an emotional GE14 and I am still smiling at the outcome and am proud of the fellow Malaysians that contributed to this first step. Looking forward a better Malaysia and Malaysians.”
Penny Gan says, “Our air is not only fresher, the air that we breathe now contains hope and security. There is hope for our younger generation now. I am proud to say I am Malaysian again.”
Lee Bok Seong says, “Yes, we all won. The birth of new Malaysia, of Malaysians!”
Percy Ung says, “Glad that many whom I know, are warriors of PH. I am in the Seri Delima Campaign Team…and our victory celebrations this Saturday. Cheers towards a new ‘Harapan with checks and balances.” (Below is a photo of Percy.)
And finally, a heartfelt piece by Assoc Prof Dr Sivakumar S Balakrishnan who is with Penang Medical College and who encapsulated what we all felt and our hope and dreams too:
“It’s been an exciting week since we woke with the euphoria of finally changing our government after 60 years. I always knew that the previous government would not last forever but did not anticipate to experience the change in my lifetime. The weeks before was also filled with anticipation as something different was in the air. The usual worry about the new was also there.
Of course, the worry of possible chaos after the change led many to stock up food and necessities. By evening the roads were pretty deserted especially since it was a holiday. It was a great feeling waking up after a rather short sleep. As if we were experiencing the rebirth of the nation. It felt great! It was a different experience seeing many congratulating each other for bravely going for the change.
It was fun reading WhatsApp messages and Facebook messages on this great achievement of ours. It was a nail-biting experience till the end when finally at about 10pm our new prime minister was sworn in. It was history in the making and we were part of that.
It was an awesome feeling. It was funny as well as we have placed our trust in a 93-year-old man whom we had years before labelled a dictator, authoritarian and recognize as the person who started the rot in the first place!
Well, that’s last week’s history. Fast forward one week and things are happening at a pace totally unexpected! Raids at the previous prime minister’s residences, zeroing of the GST, stabilization of petrol prices are just a few to mention. We hope that more good things are coming to make our lives and our country better. We want to have a better Malaysia for everyone. We hope and that’s why we opted for “Harapan”!
As the euphoria settles and we get back to our day-to-day lives, we need to understand that changes will take time. Let us leave the daunting task of getting the country back to where it should be to the very people we have elected. Let them get on with their job.
However, we will keep an eye on them to see if they are doing it well. As if they fail to live up to the task, then we the people of Malaysia will remove them. I think this is the most important lesson that we have learnt. The real power is with people and the leaders are there because of us, period!
I also think that we should not be vengeful but allow the previous party to reflect where they went wrong. They need to improve so they could be a better option in the future. We would not forget and appreciate that a lot of the development of this country was brought by the previous government. However, they are also the reason we are in the current mess as well. Anyway, we hope that they come back in a much better state. To the people who voted for the previous government, that is ok. It is your right to choose. In the end, all of us must unite to strengthen our country. Witch hunting is to be avoided and as the new old prime minister kept saying, “we just follow the rule of law”. Let us look positively for a better Malaysia for all of us.”
Thank you for emailing us and giving us your responses and being part of a historic change, a change so monumental that we’re now standing in the eyes of the world again.
Some say we shouldn’t mix politics and business. But we cannot run away from the fact that politics is a way of life. And playing a role in the democracy of our country is our right as a citizen.
We become entrepreneurs because we believe in taking more risks for a better return. And in the coming years, I believe there will be a much-improved environment for all of us in business because of what we all did on 9th May.
And here’s a heartwarming anecdote from my side. I was waiting for my PACAs outside of the school and was pacing up and down. They were inside the school undergoing the ballot counting process. It was drizzling and I had been hanging around since the school gates closed at 5pm. It was already 7.30pm and getting dark. Everyone had left the school since the polling centre was closed. I didn’t realise it but this couple who had been driving past the area noticed me. They zipped to the nearby shop and not only brought me biscuits and water but also swiped a blue plastic stool so that I could sit and rest! Here’s a picture of me with Emily and Boyd, the kind-hearted folks and the stool they swiped (which they later returned to the nearby market).
*For GE15, if anyone wants my training documents on how to train your PACAs, ask me! Nic and I have been PACAs in GE13 and completed the circle by being Ketua PACAs. I was not entirely satisfied with the way Ketua PACAs were trained so right after GE14, I wrote out my concise version of what a Ketua PACA should do (and shouldn’t do). A Ketua PACA’s role is to lead and manage his or her team, not frighten them with gory stories of how awful the Ketua Tempat Mengundi will be! With the current reforms, I also am hopeful that the next general elections will be easier for PACAs too.