Friday, April 15, 2011

Reflection before polling day

A Veteran of Sarawak politics, 

Sim Kwang Yang ( also known as SKY ),

was the first to spearhead a democratic movement
in this part of the world

Beaten often before, 

now tired and old,

he reflects on the eve of the polling day :

We have come to the eve of yet another general election for our representatives 
in the state assembly in Sarawak
My first brush with electoral politics in Malaysia 
happened 33 years ago, in 1978

I was in Kuching for the summer vacation, 
a break from my university course in philosophy
I had already enrolled in graduate school, 
intending to pursue a PhD in that obscure subject
I read in the newspaper that a group of Kuching people 
were trying to set up a new branch 
for the DAP ( Democratic Action Party )
I knew nothing about the DAP 
and did not know their secretary-general Lim Kit Siang
But I have always been convinced 
that democracy is good for the people, in Sarawak or elsewhere
So I walked up to the local contact person and signed up as a member

Not long after that, 
a group of local DAP members paid me a visit 
and invited me to a meeting
I went to the meeting and was duly elected as secretary of the Kuching branch
Very soon, I was sucked into the maelstrom of their local political activities

In 1979, the assemblyman for Padungan passed away suddenly, 
and a state by-election was held soon after
I was nominated as a party candidate in Padungan, 
contesting among a field of five
I had to learn the ABCs of party politics quickly, 
and I was handicapped by my poor command of Mandarin at the time

In the by-election, the independent candidate won the contest, 
and I obtained the second highest number of votes
That gave me great encouragement for the future of politics in Sarawak

During that time, I was already a Landed Immigrant in Canada, 
with a scholarship to study in philosophy
I decided to give up my future in Canada, 
and started to build my career in politics in my beloved homeland
I worked almost full-time for my party, the DAP
In 1982, I contested again 
and won the parliamentary seat for Bandar Kuching for the first time
My involvement in party politics then became total, 
when I began work in my position as a member of parliament.
In total, I contested eight times in various elections, 
and I won elections for my parliamentary seat three consecutive times

When I retired in 1995, 
I was much weakened physically, 
by my problems with my health, 
and in particular with diabetes
I had to quit from active politics, 
and I have retired since that time
My poor health has been my Achilles heel, 
especially after I suffered from a stroke early last year

Throughout my political career, 
I have heard many of my friends express their fear of politics
They would rather leave the cut and thrust to the professional politicians, 
and they often grumble that politics is too dirty for them

My involvement in active politics at the front line, 
over almost 20 years, has taught me many things about life in general, 
and about politics in particular. 
It was very frustrating to work in the negative atmosphere of fear 
that is prevalent in our society
This is my chief complaint about my constituents, 
because they fear every shadow that moves in the darkness, 
when most of the time there was nothing to fear at all
The people were frightening themselves half the time
Looking back 32 years later, 
I am glad I participated in active party politics, 
though I have nothing to show for it in material terms, 
except a pension
I still think that politics need not be dirty
It is as clean as you make it to be
But you have to learn to be critical about yourself, 
and adhere to the highest moral standards of public service

From experience, 
I have learned that the worst enemy of the politician is his own ego 
All politicians must remember to guard against hubris, 
and the danger of his or her own pride
I have seen many politicians destroyed 
by the greed of their own heart
The best politicians are the humble leaders of the people
All politicians must treasure the sense of humility, 
no matter how high they climb

So, we are now on the cusp of yet another state election
Like all elections in the past, there will be winners and there will be losers
After the election, all parties and candidates must conduct post-mortem examinations,
to identify their weaknesses and strengths during the campaign period
It is part of the work of any politician to learn from the mistakes of the past, 
and derive strength from their achievements

Win or lose, we are all Sarawakians

We must serve the people first and foremost

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