Voting is a sacred responsibility

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By not voting, we subvert the democratic process.

During the 2004 general election, I did something many would consider stupid. I drove back from Kuala Lumpur where I was working, to Johor where I was registered as a voter to cast my ballot.

But unlike the thousands who did so in my constituency, I cast a spoilt vote. Yes, I drove over 200 km from the Klang Valley to cast a vote which did not go to any of the candidates. It’s my way of showing my protest at the candidates, none of whom I had any affinity to, nor would I want to represent me in the Johor legislature.

When I related this to my friends, they laughed at me. Why go through all the trouble but not vote for anyone? In many matured democratic countries, casting spoilt votes has been recognised as a form of protest, and I was merely registering mine then.

For me, voting is a responsibility. In fact, it is a sacred duty. Once every five years – or sometimes less than that – we get to decide whom we want to place our hopes and aspirations in.

Most of the time, it is easy to decide, based on our personal inclinations and biases. And collectively we put pen to paper in a move that will seal our future. In democracy, nothing can be more sacrosanct than the act of voting itself.

Why am I bringing up this now? Because as the campaigning for the Johor election enters its final lap, I sense, based on my conversations with my circle of friends, political lethargy from the voters.

Many have said they’d not want to return to Johor to vote, especially those working abroad like in Singapore. Even some voters who reside in Johor are planning to stay away from the polling stations this Saturday when voting takes place, especially among the Chinese.

They said they are fed up with the political situation and travelling from out of state can be troublesome, especially since they had just voted in 2018.

To me, that is a dereliction of duties and responsibilities. As voters, it is our duty to vote. Vote for the best candidate, or the lesser of the two evils. Or like me in 2004, cast a vote of protest. It doesn’t matter as long as you come out and make your voice heard.

By not voting, we subvert the democratic process. We have no right to complain about how our voices were not heard after that because we did not exercise our democratic duty.

In the recent Malacca state elections, the outcome in several seats would have been different had voters turned out in full force. Every vote counts.

So, I would implore Johor voters to come out and vote on Saturday like your life depended on it. Make your voice heard, make your vote count, otherwise, you’d live to regret it!

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader Lim Aun Chong from Johor Bahru.