Sheih on Sheih: Learning to be Amongst Loser
Posted on January 21, 2008
It had been a while since I last wrote about myself, sharing my feelings and emotions. It had been a while since I took pleasure in the honesty of my readers, commenting on nothing else but themselves, remembering our moments and making fun about life and how naive we are.
It had been a while since I stood among the loser and celebrated the lost. However, if I remember it well, losing can sometimes taste as sweet as the glory of being a winner. That is how it taste back then, somewhere in August 1992.
Three weeks after being appointed as Yang DiPertua Desasiswa Fajar Damai, I tendered my resignation to stand for the Student Council Election or Pilihanraya Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar USM as it was called back then.
The Student Committee of Desasiswa Fajar Damai called an emergency meeting to persuade me against resigning. A representative from Desa Fajar, a 2nd Lieutenant in The ROTU stood and preached for almost 30 minutes and laid down 2 option for me, if I insisted in participating in the student election.
Option number one, is for me to retract my resignation letter and put on hold my intention to stand for the student election until next year, where they promised to make sure I will get solid votes from the Desasiswa.
Option number two, they wanted me to retract my resignation letter and continued to stand for the student election and my position at the Desasiswa will only be subject of discussion after the student election. Which mean, if I lose the election, I shall continue serving the Desasiswa.
It was almost midnight, when I finally got my chance to thank them for their concerned. Without trying to be apologetic, I rejected both options because it is against what I believe in.
First of all, if I postponed my intention till the coming year, it shall mean that I will going to be in my final year, where else I shall not be around after that to be accountable for all the criticism towards the policies that I may be part of during my term in the council. Student council is not a one-nightstand affair where you can just wham-bang and say thank-you-mam.
Second, it is not that I did not want to serve the Desasiswa, but I should not do what I believed others shouldn’t.
The next day, accompanied by only two others, I sent my nomination paper. A day before, it was decided that I will stand at The Humanities Constituency. Prior discussion has decided that School of Communication will send 3 candidates and I am included as one of it. The Humanities Constituency has 3 seats. The chance for all three candidates from School of Communication to win is almost certain. Any extra candidates from School of Communication will surely split the votes and spell disaster for all.
On the day of nomination, one fella by the name of Kamarul met me and informed about his intention to be the fourth candidates from School of Communication. Kam Chong and Freed advised Kamarul to stand for the General Constituency instead. Kamarul came to me and persuaded me instead to take my challenge in the General Constituency.
Amongst the four of us, only Kam Chong has the chance to win in the General Constituency. He has the fund and the machinery as all Chinese candidates are fully finance by certain parties and their campaign are managed by the Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua.
The General Constituency consisted of all the school in the main campus, plus the medical school in the Kubang Kerian campus and the engineering school in the Tronoh campus. Persatuan Bahasa Tionghua will limit their candidates as the only chance for them to win there is by not splitting the non-Malay votes.
The Malays candidates are divided into 3 groups, the Pro UMNO group, the Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam group, which was known to be funded by the opposition and the IRC. None of it is where Kamarul, Freed and me belong.
Staring at the possibility that none of us will gather enough votes to win even one of the three seats, one of us will have to make a monumental and perhaps suicidal decision. It was then decided, based on track record, achievement and experience, that person shall be me.
It was death from the moment I submitted my nomination paper. The number of Malay candidates is unusually small compared to previous year. It seems that, the night before, the Pro UMNO machinery had cut a deal with IRC and Persatuan Pelajar Tionghua. All the three groups agreed to take the Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam’s candidate head on. Six versus six. Only to have two morons, both from School of Communication and both did not fit into any of the group. One is a guy name Ridwan from Johore and the next, is me. Until today, I did not know how Ridwan came into the picture.
With such a limited fund, I decided to forget all about Kubang Kerian and Tronoh and focus solely in the main campus. It shall be miracle if I made it. Kubang Kerian and Tronoh are useless after all. Most of the Science faculties are good for nothing because most of the Malay students came from the Matriculation Programme, which they are already tuned by PAS under their cadre scheme.
My only hopes are the Arts streams as most of them came from form six. Thinking of it today, I did a Lone Ranger back then, riding only on a friend from Pasir Mas, named Adnan an ardent follower of Ibrahim Ali. Adnan left me after Ibrahim Ali left Semangat 46 but came to offer his support based of the Kelantanese Brotherhood.
Adnan did all the campaign while I am hooked up on my part-time work as Research Assistant at the School of Communication. As a research assistant, my duty was to record all those Olympic events on RTM 1, RTM 2 and TV3. The title of the research is, Sukan Olimpik dan Televisyen Malaysia: Satu Pengalaman Barcelona.
Because of the time zone, my duty started at 6pm and finished at 6am the next day. Due to that, I am hardly seen during the campaign, rumours spreading like wild fires that I went to Barcelona for the research.
Barcelona ended few days before the Election Day. I knew then I am trailing badly but I managed to squeeze some ground during the debates. By now, 2 girls, Nida and Cat, accompanied Adnan; both are my assistants on the Barcelona thing.
My campaign was very simple; my tagline is ‘Protest’. I will always end my speeches by saying, ‘if ever you disagree with anything at all, do not keep it to yourself, hand your protest to me. Give me your vote. Give me your Protest Vote’.
On the Election Day, 1680 students cast their protest vote. I witnessed the ballot counting until around seven thirty. By then, we all knew Kam Chong, Freed and Kamarul made it. And for me, I am always about 300 hundred to 400 hundred votes behind to squeeze to the last seat on the General Constituency. I left the counting centre without any intention of returning there for the final result.
Around midnight, my roommate, woke me up saying, Nida and Cat are waiting for me downstairs.
Nida and Cat took me for a drive. At Gurney Drive, they told me about the result. I came out 8. Most of the votes I have gotten are from the Chinese students. Kam Chong had done his part of the deal. Most of the Malay students did not voted me because I am perceived as too liberal. The male also did not vote me because of my playboya style. The also insisted that their girlfriend not to vote for me.
Later that night, Nida parked her Nissan 120Y overlooking the Penang Bridge. I was with my roommate at the back seat. Nida and Cat were in front.
Suddenly, out of the blue, I just thinking aloud, “This is the first time I taste defeat”. Without realising it had cause tears to flow over Cat’s cheek.
It wasn’t defeat after all, because 5 years later, I wedded Cat. Only to realised that Cat’s parents are hardcore Tengku Razaleigh supporter. They rejoin UMNO soon. I did the same in KL.
Soon, we are back as winner.