SINGAPORE (July 9): Some of my so-called friends have been giving me a hard time over the last couple of months for not voting at Malaysia’s general election on May 9. The way they see it, by doing nothing to help boot out Barisan Nasional (BN) and elect Pakatan Harapan (PH), I have let down my more civic-minded countrymen who helped create a new and better Malaysia.

I have tried to explain that I have spent most of my adult life living outside Malaysia, and never registered myself as a voter. But I know it is a lame excuse. Concerned about massive corruption and wholesale thieving in their country, Malaysians from far-flung corners of the world made the effort to travel home to cast their votes. Most of the Malaysians in my own office here in Singapore also decamped to their various hometowns on polling day, and still have traces of the indelible dye on their fingers to prove their participation in the election.

Najib Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister who was arrested this past week and charged for criminal breach of trust, has also blamed his fall from grace on people who did nothing. Shortly after the May 9 election, Najib seized upon a statement by former Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who recently made a failed bid for the post of United Malays National Organisation (Umno) president, that party officials had not made the loss of support from the ground clear enough to their boss. “Was there a signal? Yes, there were clear signals, but we became oblivious to the signals,” Khairy said in a May 15 news report.

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