Your choice is your own

WITH Parliament dissolved and campaigning in full swing for the 14th general election, I've just got one request – let's keep it civil.

With the Anti-Fake News Act in place, anyone and everyone can take a tweet, a Facebook post, a WhatsApp message and even a recorded video to the police station and report it as "fake news".

In the run-up to the election, people will become more zealous in their beliefs, more passionate in their mockery and perhaps more careless with their words and actions. It's a given, considering the passion we have for politics. Please restrain yourselves.

The truth is never self-evident because it is layered, framed, omitted and sometimes obfuscated to support one side rather than the other. You have to dig deep into what is being said by politicians and supporters. Do search online and verify what you read or hear.

Media itself has a tendency to lean to one side or another, so you are safer reading all sides before coming to a conclusion.

Have a care before sharing posts that you cannot prove – it's the season for slander and libel. Ask for a source link. It's the internet, information has to come from somewhere even if it's a WhatsApp print screen.

Read the party manifestos and reason out what you support, what you don't, and even what you want any side to clarify. This will at least allow you to make an informed decision of what to expect. While manifestos are not binding in a court of law, don't worry, it's pretty much binding in a court of public opinion.

I will also say – don't trust politicians. The duty of a politician during a political campaign is to get you to vote for them by any means. They will poke your buttons to trigger anger, resentment, and sympathy without having to prove why they are fit to rule for five years.

Prod them on their plans, tell them what you want and ask them how they can deliver or why they cannot do so. In short, push them to be as honest as possible. The campaign period is a time for politicians to promise the Moon and the stars, even if having either crash into the Earth would kill us all.

So, promises will be aplenty but ask them how they will deliver them. The time frames, the cost, the impact on the environment and wellbeing of people, as well as the cost of living. There is no excuse for any side not to know the mechanics of implementing their promises.

Now with all that in mind, understand this. In the last eight months, either side has only managed to convince some 200,000 Malaysians to register as voters. Some 3.6 million citizens over 21 have yet to register as voters.

At the same time, you might well know where I stand in the next general election as an #UndiRosak advocate.

No, there is no goal in this campaign, nor do I hope it reaches critical mass to change the outcome of the election. It is about sending a message that political parties need to let go of their past and let the younger generation lead, or die out.

So yes – vote for whatever you believe in, be it staying with stability, wanting a change, a belief in a socialist future, a belief in a religious government, or even the want to rage against the machine. All are acceptable choices in this democracy of ours.

More importantly, your choice is your own. Some will argue to vote for your country, your god, your race. My advice, is to vote with your head and heart. I really won't bother influencing you because I believe each Malaysian can make an informed decision without influence by just reading up and asking questions.

Don't mind the mockery, don't mind the hate and arrogance, just don't sink to the same level.

Whatever dreams may come in GE14, it's in your hands.

Hafidz Baharom is a public relations practitioner. Comments: