TODAY Malaysians will again have the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights to choose the next government.
Democracy is not perfect in Malaysia, but neither is it perfect anywhere else in the world and never has been.
Even Socrates cautioned against its flaws when he said: “The danger of democracy is that those who want to be elected often out-promise each other to win.”
Well, the 13th General Election campaign has been one of promises from all sides coupled with the customary mudslinging.
The official campaigning period allowed for the 13th General Election was 15 days after nomination on April 20 but in truth, the first salvo was fired well before that date.
Never in the history of the nation has the jostling for power been so fierce and we witnessed democracy at its best and, sadly, also at its worst on the campaign trail.
At times, it degenerated into a no-holds-barred fight with contending parties throwing everything, including the proverbial kitchen sink, at each other and accusations of corruption, money politics and sex scandals seemed to be the weapons of choice.
But Malaysians also have to be thankful for the freedom accorded to all parties to campaign and reach out to the voters.
The massive crowds at Pakatan Rakyat’s ceramahs bear testimony to the freedom of expression and there were moments of grace when opposing candidates shook hands at nomination centres.
The media war might favour Barisan Nasional in the mainstream but that advantage was offset by the opposition’s limitless access to the Internet where truths, half-truths and outright lies were posted with seeming impunity.
There were troubles in the campaigning but the scuffles, fights and some small explosions detonated at public gatherings were schoolboys’ tomfoolery compared to the massive bombs and gunfights that claimed so many lives in political campaigns in many other countries.
Now that the dust of the campaign has settled and the responsibility of choosing the next government handed to the voters, let us pray for a peaceful polling day.
However, even before the first vote is cast today, there is already a winner in this mother of all elections — The Rakyat.
Whichever side wins, the people can look forward to a slew of mouth-watering promises — more affordable housing, more aid for the poor, more schools, free education and the list goes on.
The Sword of Damocles will hang over the head of the government after the election as the eyes of the whole nation will be watching to see if it fulfils its promises within the five years it holds power in the next parliament.
Judging from the promises made by both sides, it will take a super human effort to fulfill all of them but the price of failing to deliver them could prove fatal in the 14th general election.
For the people, the next five years will be a time of great expectations — a time of free education, lower taxes, better housing, in some states free water, money for the poor and elderly and many more goodies.
How the government will bring about what it promises the people if it were given the mandate is not for the people to crack their heads over — they are not the ones who made the promises.
The winning coalition of this election will be like a mother, who after giving birth to her first child, asked the nurse if the pain was over.
The nurse told her: “Honey it has just begun.”-theborneopost