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How Being a Polling Agent Opened My Eyes

I am still a little emotional and reeling back from the shock of 'losing' Parliament during GE13. Seriously. But after taking in the facts and data, I conclude that we won. WE WON. I will try to make this a short one, God willing. =)))))

Friends and family who came out and vote - my goodness, you guys frickin' rock my world!! I almost forcefully helped registered some family members, some finally fed-up (we are talking about aunts and family who are beyond the 50 year old mark) called me up to help get themselves registered. I have friends who have been sitting on the fence for so long but became 'interested' in, at the very least, registering themselves as a voter. Whether to actually vote or not, I leave it up to them. I am not the kind of person who will label anyone anything if they decide NOT to exercise their right. It is their right, not mine. (I am not a registrar. Credit should be given to the DAP team for registering these friends and family members of mine on the fly).

Even at the very last minute, the day before GE13, they warned me, 'I don't know whether I will go out and vote or not ah. It's very hot and humid and so many smelly people wan ah'. And then I have other family members who would rather wake up for their daily run than to wake up early to do something about the country, who actually woke up earlier than me to go cast their vote quite a distance from their home. On Whatsapp, I have friends who messaged me 'I hope this guy makes use of my vote nicely hor. He better make it worth my time standing in the sun, in a long line'. And also 'Here got shade too but heat from many hot bodies in kid-sized corridors'.

Bear in mind, these are the people who knows my stand, who are my buddies, who also warned me 'Don't scream at me, I still don't know who to vote for ah.' And I never hesitated to tell them, 'Whatever it is, whoever it is that you want to vote for, please by all means, go make a stand. I won't scream at you just because you support another party and I was the one who helped register you'. I won't regret helping you because I want you to be more aware of how powerful our voices can be. Even if it is a holler from the other direction, I welcome it.

As a polling agent, my eyes were suddenly open to so many loopholes. Just to name one of them - pencils used for polling agents AND VOTERS. I don't believe this is...er....logical la but there you go. There you have it. It happens. I have proof that it happened where I was manning the station. I have proof in the form of a group Whatsapp message, of a polling agent going 'My pencil is running blunt. I need a sharpener or a pen'. Huh??!!!! Pencil? OMG. What are we, primary school students?

But OK, pencils CAN be used for agents but voters? I don't have evidence for this because it is merely heresay. For agents, pencils are great I guess because there will be mistakes but is this really the best way we can do this?

I also believe that despite having a presence in the polling stream, polling agents are not given enough voice or choice. The Ketua is not a Ketua, he is the KING. He ask you to shuddup, you shuddup. He say you cannot fill in a form, you cannot fill in the form. And you know what, where I was manning, the KING wasn't even there all the time. Let's assume there was something we wanted to raise at that point in time and the Ketua went off to have his or her teh tarik, the polling agents becomes useless people sitting there crossing out names and staring at the ballot boxes.

The Keranis are also extremely unfriendly, you can't beat that. Hahaha...Anyway, as far as I can see, they make the rules along the way, for your information. You have read that the K1 reads and the K2 inks you, right? You saw all of that, right? Well, where I was voting (not where I was manning), the K1 couldn't wait to ink me but I told her she needs to read my name out loud from my IC first (for the polling agents to find my name and cross it out on their copy of the register) before inking me. The reason is that so that if there are irregularities, at least I can make a correction and vote (without the inked finger mah)!! If you ink me before making sure everything was a-OK means that I might not get to vote later, no? Anyway, I pointed it out to her and she gave me the evil eye and a heavy sigh. Whatever, read my name first. She obliged la. =)))

Anyway, as a first-time voter, I am kind of thinking that we can do better than this. Isn't there a more 'advanced' way to do this? The system is just so open to mistakes and last minute corrections! The way we are doing this is totally so 1970s.

The agents, however, were so high tech. Using Whatsapp to message each other about what is going on in the booths, what needs to be done, hourly updates from us, also us sharing our message 'Raining now, nothing to do. Best to take an afternoon nap'. LOL!

At the booth, I also saw many young Malaysians across racial borders who were very spirited and shared the same vision. One young Malay guy who had a stitched-up three-party flag (PKR-PAS-DAP) on his car came out of his car and to our booth and shared a very nice conversation with us, most of the conversation were not really politically-related. Just about Malaysia.

During lunch hour, a car drove by and stopped in front of our booth. Two men came out, Malays, and asked 'Ini PR kah?' (This is the opposition booth?) and we nodded. He said, 'OK, good. Kita ada present untuk you orang. Makanan, 100 Plus, you berapa orang?' (We have present for you all, Food and 100 plus. How many people are there?' The Station Master thought that opposition people sent them said '20+ people'. It shocked them for a while because maybe not enough stock for booths at other places. Then Station Master realized that they were good Samaritans quickly told them that 4 or 5 would be good enough. Such kindness. Before leaving us, they said that the other booths so much food, here don't have. LOL. Cool people, right?

I want to make a special mention about my parents who went to PR's finale in Kelana Jaya - You guys even more rocker than your kids. Really, that was cool. =)

So, the election has come and gone. There we have it. We didn't get into Parliament. But is this a loss? NO.

Getting into Parliament is a dream, yes, but we must remember a few things. Democracy is not dead. It never will be. Democracy is a lifestyle, a journey. So, we got bumped a bit and bruised. Yeah, we were crying, so was I, and slammed our fists into our bolsters and pillows...or friends' upper arms. I scolded my poor teddy bear, ok?! I will apologize to it later. It didn't do anything wrong during GE13. >.<

What matters is that Malaysians came out and stood there. When ballot boxes were in danger, people drove from all over the place, not just Bangsar residents themselves, to form a human barrier. Two friends of mine drove from Damansara Jaya to Bangsar to form another barrier. Man, rocking cool. Rocking cool. We have to protect the votes and we did that. To me, that is another way to protect the people's voice!

Last of all, PR won the popularity vote. I think this means that, in total, more people voted for them compared to the ruling coalition. Which means we lost to gerrymandering and dirty tricks once again.

On a sidenote, Google made a special logo for Malaysian GE13. Google, you have my vote! Oh, wait. Sorry, election fever not over. ;-)


Love, 
Marsha

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