The Rocket in my heart, Justice as my badge
In 2007, I decided to join a political party and “do something” for the society. As to the question, “do what?”, I was not sure, but I felt that as a 25-year old, it was time for me to do my part.
So I went to the head office of a political party in Penang. As a working person, I can only go on a Saturday morning. Alas, I was told by someone at the office to come back again the next Monday because they were closed on weekends. That was how I failed in my attempt to sign up as a member of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan).
Political awareness was so much lower at that time, so my idea of politics and the whole political situation was less than amateurish. And I was not a natural opposition supporter. But after failing to join Gerakan, I left a message in the DAP Malaysia website to state my intention to volunteer myself for their activities. After all, my Member of Parliament in Bukit Mertajam at that time was Chong Eng from DAP.
Almost immediately, Chong Eng emailed me on 5 September 2007. Within three days, my then girlfriend, Jo Rin, now my wife, and I were seated in a neighbourhood kopitiam with Chong Eng and her husband, Guna. One of my first impressions of Chong Eng was how her car was “poorer” than mine; I drove a Proton Saga while she, a red Kancil. In a strange way, that was also one of my earliest political awareness: I always thought that YBs are super rich. Something was different with DAP leaders. Thus began my journey with DAP which now spanned 11 years.
Eleven years on, I am now the MP for Bukit Mertajam, taking over from Chong Eng who is now a Penang State EXCO member.
Eleven years on, I am more determined than ever to “do something”, but I am clear now what I, we, need to do: we need to reverse the regression our country is experiencing, from racial relation, to the economy, to human rights to the state of our public institutions.
Eleven years on, DAP is no longer the perpetual opposition party. Together with our coalition partners, we are the government in the two richest states in Malaysia and we are the government-in-waiting at the federal level. And I am proud that the party of my choice eleven years ago is a party which walks the talk. The DAP state government delivered what we have committed to the people. In Penang, we promised good governance, anti-corruption, efficient public delivery, and a more humane society. In the past 10 years, we have achieved all these, evidenced by the accolades and affirmations by friends and foes alike.
Eleven years on, I am still very proud to don the DAP badge. The Rocket represents to me an insignia for the “small people”, like myself, ordinary Malaysians who have no one else to go to when we are faced with bullying from the big boys, whether it be the Government or the Big Corporations. Malaysians know, where the Rocket flag flies, there shall we find refuge against oppression and injustice.
I wore the Rocket as I stood with residents in Taman Sentosa, Taman Bukit Ria, and Taman Bukit Indah as they protested a high-rise condominium in their already congested neighbourhood. We managed to thwart the project.
I wore the Rocket as I joined hands with parents and teachers of SRJK Permatang Tinggi to demand the federal government for a new school building to replace the termite-infested existing ones. After more than a decade, the federal government finally announced a RM20 million allocation for a new building.
I wore the Rocket as I went in and out of court with villagers of Kampung Tok Subuh to face the huge money machine of a private developer evicting the villagers from their homes. Today, they have all received satisfactory compensations and will soon be proud owners of new houses to be built no other than in Kampung Tok Subuh itself.
I wore the Rocket as I stood in between a group of protesting students and the police trying to calm the situation and to prevent the students from being harmed. I was hit by a police baton, sustaining injury and a damaged handphone.
I wore the Rocket as I debated in Parliament, once even at 3am to ensure that at least we put up a fight against unjust legislations which profit only the powerful. I wore the Rocket as I took the Prime Minister to task for misleading the people in his budget speech, and was eventually chased out of the Dewan Rakyat.
When the decision was made to not use the Rocket in the 14th General Election, the whole DAP family was filled with solemn anguish.
When my colleague asked me if we should changed the logo on our election campaign materials, I find myself overwhelmed with emotion: “we must, we have no choice”, was my short answer.
We have no choice because UMNO-Barisan Nasional denied us our right to use a common Harapan logo.
We have no choice because we must present the coalition as a united front to face this Mother of all Elections.
We have no choice because we must defeat the kleptocrat in power and save Malaysia.
Then, I saw Barisan Nasional especially MCA cybertroopers sharing messages on social media saying “DAP dropped the Rocket logo because DAP is afraid of the Malays.”
Alas, the same old racist politics! After ten years of being rejected by the people, BN still cannot change.
UMNO used to say DAP is anti-Malay. No, DAP is not anti-Malay, we are anti-corruption!
Now MCA said DAP is afraid of the Malays.
Yes, let me tell you: DAP is indeed afraid! But not only the Malays. We are afraid to disappoint every Malaysians who put their hopes in Pakatan Harapan to defeat the kleptocrat and save our country.
This is not an election for personal ambition nor any single party’s ambition. No, this is an election to restore Hope, to rebuild Malaysia into the country we can be proud of, not just because of our sports or our rendangs, but because it is a country which stands for what is right not what is wrong.
Eleven years on, I am now going into the 14th General Election with the Rocket in my heart and Justice as my badge.
Steven Sim is the Political Education Director of DAP Penang.