Don’t Let Malaysia Be Us

By Bodey S

Hello RPK,

I'm a 22 year old from the Republic of Maldives. I guess with your knowledge you will know there is a country called Maldives. I'm writing this letter to you to give you a brief understanding how politics changed our lives.

We are a country of a population of 350,000. After an autocratic 30-year rule of one certain leader, last year on November 11th we voted in a new president. The events that made change seem euphoric and jubilating was actually devastating. Today, almost every single matter has become political. Laying brick work, helping the poor or even arresting a paedophile are just simple examples of that.

For some reason, I've become very interested in Malaysian politics. I've been reading your articles for the last 2 years and of course I do read your govt newspapers too. But as I can't understand Bahasa Melayu, I can't read Utusan Malaysia (I think I'll have more to laugh about your country if I do understand Bahasa).

So let's get to the real purpose of this letter. We Maldivians were under a dictatorship for a long time. It wasn't that "hardcore" a dictatorship, it was just like what you have in Malaysia (even though most Malaysians may not get it, I'm sure you know what I mean).

About 4 years ago, Maldivians started to revolt. They wanted change and protests started and the government was forced to allow opposition parties. From there, democratic actions were undertaken; a new constitution was ratified, old guards were forced out, and a new breed of young politicians got into power. It felt like things were getting better and at last Maldivians would get what we felt we deserve. (FYI: Maldives has the highest GDP in South Asia but about 50% of the population makes less than $1 per day.)

Ok, so now you know why I said it seemed like a triumph. But today, I feel ashamed to think about Maldivian politics. Now in the island, if people are not happy with a doctor or they do not like an imam, they will just close the island office. More than 30 cases of this has happened in this year alone.

We've got our Parliament elections next week where there are 460 or so candidates contesting 77 seats in the People’s Majlis, (that's what we call our Parliament). From the 350,000 or so population, I think only around 200,000 will be eligible to vote. So if you calculate the average vote per candidate, you will understand why I'm telling you not to let Malaysia be like us. In your Bukit Selambau by-election, there were 11 candidates which was a record in Malaysian politics. In my country, for a seat of about 1,500 votes there were 20 candidates.

So man, I hope you got what I mean. Maybe Maldivians are not matured enough but I hope most Malaysians are more aware. But I just wanted to share with you how things can go wrong.

So, thanks for being you. You are doiing a good thing and you shall win soon.

And by the way, I was glad to read about your way of thinking about Islam and all those kinds of stuff. It made me realise I'm not alone in that. So thanks, man.

Cheers and hope you are safe.