Saturday, March 08, 2008

Malaysia votes

Today is D-Day, the day of reckoning. The sky is grey and overcast with promise of showers later in the day. The last 2 weeks leading up to this day have been wild: The streets all decked with banners and posters like dirty laundry, our roads and sidewalks littered with mugshots of YBs and wannabes. (Do we actually believe that more flaglines equals greater show of support?)

Unsolicited articles and videos (many of which anyone with an online account would have seen or read anyway) pile up in mailboxes while text messages clutter mobiles with gossips and ceramah updates. I admit I have forwarded a few myself. If the mammoth turnout at opposition rallies across the country is to be believed, the winds of change appear to be blowing.

We had friends who stayed overnight. After a late breakfast, I send one of them to the LRT and then head to my Wangsa Maju polling station. It’s almost noon. After 2 weeks of electioneering, all keyed up from following discourses online and ceramahs offline, how anti-climactic to be greeted by police personnel and very officious types manning the polling station, who probably wished they were somewhere else.

The air is curiously still, betraying the electrified 2-week run-up to this moment where X marks the fate of a nation. I wonder at the sluggish handful who are gathering about the 3 booths, whose votes I hope will translate into unclogged drains, but more importantly, in unfettered defense of a Malaysian Malaysia.

My number is called, the officer haltingly announces my name to muffled giggles by his assistant who avert her eyes. I am handed my ballot slip. No indelible ink. Here you go, straight fight: PKR vs BN. There’s the transparent ballot box, a farcical concession to independent election watchers (in an Alice-In-Wonderland kind of way) and sop to the cynics.

My duty done, over in 5 minutes, I walk out to my car. The policeman smiles lazily in my direction. A mother and her chattering son stroll in. The sky is still grey, while BN flaglines stir ominously in the breeze.

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