I thought I’d to share with you an email I wrote to my friends recently. If you wish to receive regular emails like this from me providing updates on current issues, politics and my projects, please leave your name and email here.
Are you running?
Seriously, for those of us in politics, that must be one of the most asked questions.
Everywhere I go, people ask me, “Are you running in the next election?” The standard answers we get are usually, “It depends on the party” or “I will run (contest) if the people wants me to“.
I think this question, as with many other things in this country, puts too much focus on the politicians. We desperately need to see beyond the competition of persons and look at the contestation of ideas. Democracy is not merely about casting our votes once every 5 years, cliche as this may sound. Democracy does not go on a holiday after the election and return again in the next election. Democracy includes what happen in-between elections. And a lot of these things have to do with the people, not the politicians. If an alien from another planet lands in Malaysia during the election, it may be forgiven if it mistaken the politicians as the stars of election. I mean, politicians are being paraded and cheered, they speak on one stage after another and then receive more cheers and claps and perhaps even a flower garland or two. But even if for some cosmic misjudgement, politicians are seen as the stars of an election, it is the people who are really the star of a healthy democracy. The phrase “Do Something” is now more appropriate than ever. We must really really reclaim democracy by being responsible political actors, and not merely leave it to the politicians to run the show.
Finally, politics need not be the boring you-whack-me-I-whack-you drama we hear and read daily in the news. Our participation in politics should be geared towards good governance and better public policies. We want a greener more efficient city, a healthier lifestyle but at the same time one which is sustainable. We want safe neighbourhoods, and good education, and of course, jobs. We want to live in peace not only with our neighbours of different races down the street, but also in a peaceful global society. Sometimes, we think this is too much for a single individual. But today we have better tools, better communication devices, better computing power and all these are affordable at individual level so that collaborations among the people are now cheaper, easier and much more efficient. Hence, if corporations and governments can be big, powerful and global, there is no reason why the civil society cannot be. The old song of the union has these words as chorus:
for the union makes us strong”
Perhaps its time, we start singing again.
Anyway, from now on, whenever the question “Are you running?” is directed to me, I will answer, “YES! at least 20 km a week“, to train for the upcoming MPSP Green Run on 26 August 2012. I will write more about my running project in the coming weeks. My team and I are planning an exciting campaign under the #BetterPenang banner. To give you a sneak peek, it has got to do with running, democracy, and public policy and the things I discussed above. Stay tuned!
For those of you interested to participate but have yet to sign up for the MPSP Green Run, quickly do so. This week, the Council President YDP Maimunah and I announced that we are both participating in the 21km category. A few of my fellow MPSP councillors will also announce their participation. You see politics is not merely about “you-whack-me-I-whack-you”. Also, I am happy to announce that we have received thousands of ringgits in sponsorship for the lucky draw in the form of electronic gadgets, electrical appliances (an LCD tv even!), holiday tours and many more for the run. So, are you running?