Friday, January 16, 2009

That was Zen, This is Tao

The seconds tick away and we enter the final hours of the campaign in Kuala Terengganu. Much has been said and written about this contest, and the two camps are obviously making their final push.

I’ve said previously that UMNO and Najib clearly have the most to lose from this by-election. Indeed, even a win would not necessarily be much to celebrate about – although I doubt UMNO would not make a big fuss about an outcome that favours their candidate. On the other hand, a victory for Abdul Wahid and PAS would obviously do much more than put more of those monsoon winds in the sails of Pakatan Rakyat. And it would make the waiting process for the prime minister-in-waiting all the more choppy and unsettling.

We have heard and read what some of the political pundits have had to say about how the voters are leaning and what may or may not be on their minds. Are they fed-up with being taken for granted? Are they tired of the corruption? Are they sick of one-party domination? Are they prepared to see some reshuffling of the mahjong tiles?

Sure, we’ll all have to wait and find out. But here are a few thoughts in the waning moments of this by-election campaign.

Like the Permatang Pauh by-election, this one has understandably certainly taken on spectre of national significance. It is for this reason that perhaps the voters in Kuala Terengganu might not only be thinking of their own local concerns when they vote on Saturday, but might well be weighing their sentiments about the broader issues that reflect the direction the country has been heading in.

Like a Zen moment, the voters in Permatang Pauh helped large segments of us to re-capture the sense of awakening that has been effusive and palpable since last March. It seemed as if we Malaysians awakened to the realities of our destiny and asked some fundamental questions of ourselves. Central to this introspection was not so much about finding our individual self – although this inevitably did occur – but it was about reflecting on the future of our collective existence.

I for one thought we came through in 2008 with flying colours.

And could this by-election in Kuala Terengganu be another defining moment? Could it, perhaps like Tao, be a revelation to us of the path…the path to our national – collective - destiny?

Permatang Pauh was then, Kuala Terengganu is now.

G. Krishnan