Friday, May 17, 2013

GE 13 : Observing from France

Almost two weeks after the polling day, the elections are still a heated topic in Malaysia. Ten of thousands of Malaysians are attending rallies held by the opposition protesting the election results. Well, the ruling party won, even though the electoral process was fraudulent with many alleged irregularities.

The polling started at 8am in Malaysia (2am in France). I couldn't sleep so I woke up around 1.30am to follow updates on Facebook. Friends posted photos showing long queues in varies polling centers.

My fellow Malaysians were queuing in the rain waiting to cast their votes. An historically 80% turned out responding to calls from varies parties / groups to vote for a change.

Past 8am, photos with blue finger started to flood into my Facebook page. Photo above shows proud Malaysians showing off their blue finger indicate that they have voted.

Photo above shows a candidate advocating in 4 different languages, to appeal to the diverse demographics in Malaysia.

What struck me the most were photos and videos showing angry people blocking the suspected phantom voters from voting, especially those with foreign faces. Rumors circulated that the government handed out ID to foreigner workers and sent them to varies polling centers to vote for them. The opposition parties were calling the people to "catch the ghosts" resulting in electorates monitoring around. Thats appalling if it is true.

Around 7am the result showed that the ruling party has retained the majority and would continue its mandate after 56 years in office. This ended the hope for many who wished to see an implementation of a two-party system. It was a nervous yet exciting day, I have never so "political awaken" before. I was not disappointed at the results, but a deep saddest hovering around due to the credibility of the whole election process. Suddenly, I felt a great envy towards hubby, as it seems that his country carries an electoral system in which people can trust. Anyway, we should not lost hope. French women were granted the right to vote in 1946, only eleven years before the Malaysians. So, let's continue fighting for a clean and creditable electoral system. Malaysia Boleh!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A daddy version of bed time story

Aelig could be very harsh to her father, she refuses to do certain things with him, for example, having him during the bed time story.

To change this habit and enable daddy to share more bonding time with her, I asked hubby to pick one of her favorite stories, written in Mandarin with pictures.

It started well. She slowly calmed down and stopped protesting the present of her daddy in the room. She was actually curious how daddy was going to tell the story in French.

It was not an easy task but he did it. The book was printed from right to left so I had to correct him when he turned the pages.

Here is daddy's version of the story:
The little cat is hungry but he couldn't find his cheese. He realized two mice stole it so he scold them badly. With an empty stomach, he played with butterflies. Once he saw his mother, he asked if she could give him some food as he was still hungry. His mother gave him some eggs. After eating, he played with a turtle and a bat. (Aelig protested when he said "chauve souris" (bat), direct translation = "bald mouse", she said the bat is not a mouse). While he was sleeping two mice came to visit him. They had good time playing together. The second day after waking up, he realized all his eggs were stolen. (Finally he realized it was not eggs but Chinese bun so he switched to "bao" (Chinese bun in Hokkien)). The "bao" reappeared  and he managed to catch the mice. He can finally enjoyed the moon and stars.

The real story:
The little cat likes to chase butterflies in the garden. He has never seen a mouse in his life. One day, he asked his mother how does a mouse look like. His mother told him : " The mouse has shape mouth, round ears and long tail...". She got cut off as he said he knows what a mouse look like now. One night his mother has to go out so she asked him to guard the Chinese buns. While guarding, he confused a turtle and a bat as mouse. He was so tired until he felt sleeping. He got awaken by a weird sound and finally met the real mice. However, the mice convinced him that they were good mice, and were invited by his mother to help him. He believed them and played with them. He even treated them to a dinner. The mice encouraged him to take a nap which he gladly obliged. The second morning, he discovered that all the buns were gone! His mother arrived just in time to console him and told him that all the mice are bad. The little cat was determined to catch the mice. He prepared some buns and hid behind his bed. The two mice came and he caught them without struggle. After this episode, he finally knew what a mouse look like and has since become the bravest guardian.

Ok daddy's version was quite different from the real story but they had a good laugh, that was the most important.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

GE 13 : Voted in Paris on 28 Apr 2013

Despite the expensive train tickets, I decided to go to vote in Paris. There were several pull factors, mainly because it will be the first time I could exercise my right voting outside of Malaysia. Equally important was that the candidate in my State constituency is a capable man. I have to vote for him.

I arrived in Paris before 10am. It was a sunny day with cloudy sky. The Embassy was located in a peaceful neighborhood close to the University of Dauphine. Some Bersih volunteers were interviewing some electorates who just casted their votes. I was greeted with the warmest welcome from the Embassy employees. While waiting for my friend, I watched the voting process displayed on a TV. I chatted a bit with one of the employees, and was told that I couldn't take any photo during the whole process. Ok, as a first time voter, I didn't know much. I was quite anxious as the postal voting process is quite different from the one at home.

Once my friend arrived, we put our cellphone and camera into a plastic bag, then went upstairs to the polling room. I handed over my ID card, the first staff read my name, the second one handed me an envelope (Sampul Keutamaan). Inside the envelope I saw two smaller envelopes (Envelope B): The pink one contained a form and an Envelope A with the state ballot inside; the white one contained another form and another Envelope A with the parliamentary ballot inside. I was instructed to make sure that the serial number on the form matched the serial number on Envelope B and the ballot in Envelope A for both State and Parliamentary seats. It went nonchalantly for the State ballot (two candidates) but everyone was laughing (there were three staffs supervising the process) as I took out the second ballot as it was a long piece of ballot with 6 candidates! After checking, both me and the witness signed the forms. I then proceeded to a small booth to choose my candidates. I took out the ballot, put a cross beside the candidate, put the ballot back into Envelope A, put both Envelope A and the form into Envelope B, then sealed it. Repeated for both ballots. Final step, put both envelopes into a postal bag. The voting process was then ended.
When we stepped outside the Embassy, we were greeted with Bersih volunteers who cheerfully congratulated us. They then asked us to write a message that we wanted to share with other Malaysians, and with all these photos they have made a video.

Once casted my vote, we went to Chinatown to meet a friend. We wanted to try Dim Sum in one of the restaurants there but it was full! Despite on a Sunday, the whole area was convivial with restaurants patrons and shoppers. We ended up eating roasted pork and duck which were delicious as well. Next we went to a bubble tea shop. All in all we chatted 6 hours non-stop!

Back home, I was still suspicious with the postal voting process, especially the part how it ensured the privacy of my voting decision. In both forms it stated my ID number with the serial number. The Election Commission explained in their website that once the ballots arrived in Malaysia, they will open the Envelope B, then check if the serial number in this Envelope B matched with the one on the ballot inside Envelope A. If yes, they will put the form a side, and the Envelope A will be put on other side together with all other ballots, and be sent to the constituency for counting. Still, it means that if they want to trace my vote, they can just check the serial number on the form. I don't really trust the process but I wanted to give it a try. Every vote counts!