It’s a New Malaysia, with a new dawn and a new dusk! It has been a whirlwind week – historical and tiring. And I have to say that I am EXTREMELY honoured to be given chance to be part of it. As y’all know, Malaysia is experiencing a new paradigm shift in its political scene – for the first time in the 60 years, the Opposition Coalition managed to win the General Election and is elected as the new administrator, toppling down the ruling party Barisan Nasional – which is unheard of prior to this! AND, no words could describe my feeling as I have been involved directly in this 14th General Election as the Voting Clerk and on top of that, I’ve fulfilled the obligation as a Malaysian by doing the postal vote, as well!
My first Postal Vote! It came to my school on 7th May 2018! I thought it would never came. I went to the Pejabat Tanah Hulu Selangor for the form – as per Ustaz Harris’s advice. And at (right), preparing the setting for our Voting Place. I was honoured to be part of this election by executing two tasks; – voting and as one of the Election crews.
On the 8th May 2018, the school was given a holiday as it would be used as the voting place. My team and I (Kak Pah, Huda, Kak Noraini and our leader, the bubbly Nazirah) gathered at my school SK Serendah at 5.00 p.m. for the first time to prepare the assigned voting place – Channel 2 which was to be catered for Malaysians aged 40s and 50s. It was quite a topsy-turvy moment for me as I was dealing with my own personal drama as well – my precious Myvi was forced to be left at the Sungai Choh PERODUA Service Center for a night due to the “motor fan” insufficiency which could lead to overheating state of the engine if I were to force-drive the car back to Batang Kali! Luckily my parents were in Batang Kali as they planned to fetch my sister back to Jitra, with them. So, anyway – everything was settled prior to the 14th General Election and that was the most important thing of all, no? Alhamdulillah.
Getting ready as the First Clerk! Kak Noraini and I. Little did I knew that it would be such a long and tiring day!
We hang the official posters; we erected the voting boxes; we labelled the stations; and we prepared the voting paraphernalia. Around 7.00 p.m., we called the day off.
The glass/plastic box for the ballots.
On the day itself dated 9th May 2018 (The 14th General Election), I woke up around 4.30 a.m as my team leader, Nazirah was to arrive at my place at 5.00 a.m. – we both needed to arrive at Kuala Kubu Bharu Hall, the Main Voting Terminal (the mecca for the voting ballots to be assembled for the whole Hulu Selangor!) to collect the ballots and the plastic/glass voting boxes at least BEFORE 6 a.m.! As we were both feeling sleepy, drowsy and hungry, we decided to have a quick breakfast at a Mamak’s stall at Kuala Kubu Bharu (a dosage of Nescafe helped to enlighten the mood!) and then hurried to the Hall. We thought we were the early birds but apparently, there were a lot of other EARLIER birds as a lot of vehicles thronged the compound of the Hall, immensely! As soon as Nazirah and I reached the door of the hall, the policeman asked the name of our school and assigned us to a policewoman to escort us way towards SK Serendah.
The infamous Voting Ink. Luckily I didn’t dip my finger this time as Postal Voters were not required to dip finger but to have a witness to verify our identity by counter-signing the forms.
So we reached Sk Serendah circa 6.10 a.m. It was pitch black and I could see several policemen as well as the feisty Kak Rosnormala who happened to be under Ustaz Harris’s team was already there. I performed Subuh prayer at PIBG Room (courtesy of Ustaz Harris) and helped Nazirah to arrange the setting of our voting place. Circa 7.00 a.m., the rest of our teammates emerged; we had simple breakfast together – courtesy of Kak Sarah and Kak Pah (the so-called breakfast prepared by the SPR (Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya Malaysia)/ EC (Election Commission) was no where to be seen!). We had to be swift as people were already queuing as early as 7.45 a.m. because as soon as the clock struck at 8.00 o’clock, the voting place should be opened for the public, by hook or crook.
These big bags were the ones that Nazirah, my Team Leader and I had been carrying back and forth from SK Serendah to the Kuala Kubu Bharu Hall.
As the First Voting Clerk, my task was the first in line among of all the 4 clerks. Hence, according to the Standard of Procedure (SOP) briefed to us, I must :-
- Asked for Identification Card (IC);
- Checked for the verification of the number with the given record by SPRM/GC;
- To look upon the face of the voter whether the face printed on the IC resembled the real face of the voter, or not;
- To check the fingers of the voter, to ensure that he/she did not vote more than once;
- To YELL OUT LOUD the details of the voters as per the chronology so that the political agents could hear them loud and clear :- The NUMBER of the page where the name of the voter was recorded; the BILANGAN (turn); The 12 DIGITS of Malaysian IC numbers; and the FULL NAME of the voter.
Selfie before 8.00 a.m. Before the eyes became tired and the face lost its glow. Hahahaha!
Seemed simple but try doing it for 4 and half consecutive hours, from 8.00 a.m. until 12.30 p.m! Now THAT WAS A HEADACHE and sore to the throat! And I almost went “black-out” as I was feeling dizzy while trying to enumerate the numbers – didn’t even have time to have pause as people were thronging non-stop, endlessly!! And I was a bit pissed off with the political agents – for the record, my voice is considered as “highly-audible” in my school, without a microphone and everyone in the Channel 2 Voting Place could hear my voice CLEARLY – and yet, some of the political agents were not paying attention when I read the details, once or twice; forcing me to REPEAT, again!!! And obviously, I wasn’t happy with it, so I was showing my protest by increasing the volume of my voice! Haha! And that got me backfired as my voice gradually turned coarse and croaky – until now! Well, the price of sacrifice to the nation, no? Hehe.
The data book where I was supposed to call the details for each voters. Out of the registered 712, 600++ voters turned up; leaving merely 50++ people as absentees! So you could imagine the number of voters! Kudos Malaysians! Although I was tired, I was happy with the turnout.
At this juncture, I couldn’t take it anymore! Feeling tired and worn off – but of course, the flow of the people thronging in was getting heavier around noon. Thus, around 12.30 p.m., I changed role with my other teammate, Kak Noraini who happened to be the Second Clerk, in charge of ensuring voters to dip in their fingers. With that simple task, I slowly regained my strength, and took back the task around 2.30-3.30 p.m.; and then another round of hiatus; changing role with Huda and Kak Pah – before resuming the post circa 4.00-5.00 p.m.
Kak Pah posing with the glass box prior to 8.00 o’clock. She was my PIBG Treasurer mentor and an accounting graduate. So, she is a go-to person when it comes about counting and enumerating notes and ledgers. And I had great chemistry working with her. Thanks for all the knowledge sharing, Kak Pah!
At 5.00 p.m., the Voting Place was officially close after operating for 10 hours consecutively. BUT, my work was far from done. We took a rest for half an hour and started the counting process at 5.30 p.m. Since there were two glass boxes representing the State and Parliamentary Seats, the four of us were segregated into two; Kak Pah and I handled the State Seat whereas Huda and Kak Noraini handled the Parliamentary Seat.
Some of the funny images shared in my WhatsApps groups during the period of 14th General Election! LOL!
First, we poured down the whole 600++ ballots into two containers in front of all the political parties’ agents. Then, we assembled the ballots into 10 ballots for each pile so that it would be easier for us to get the number of the ballots right and to tally with the records jotted by own Team Leader and all the political agents. Next, we had to segregate the 600++ ballots according to political votes – Barisan Nasional, PAS, PKR and Bebas. As we opened the result, we had to demonstrate that in front of all the agents to get their agreements and also consensus whether the votes were rejected or ambiguous. After that, we had to recount each of the votes, now as per to each of the competing political parties. Now, one political party agent disagreed with our enumeration as he claimed that it did not tally with his. So Kak Pah and I had to spent another 15 minutes enumerating the ONE VOTE GONE MISSING. Alhamdulillah, the problem resolved. This whole tiring process took around 2 hours to complete from 5.30 p.m. till 7.30 p.m. and the four of us operated these by STANDING THE WHOLE TIME; while the political agents remained seated (Sheesh!) in front of us. Really, it was so freaking tiring!
Flags of political parties.
Now, at 8.00 p.m., my team had already completed the whole process. Alhamdulillah, the political agents in our Voting Place were also very cooperative and helped us despite the dramatic and unexpected losses. Kak Pah, Huda and Kak Noraini went back but I had to escort my Team Leader back to Kuala Kubu Bharu Hall (as the First Clerk) along with the assigned policewoman. We left SK Serendah as at 9.00 p.m. as the policemen wanted every team to be escorted in one whole big convoy (perhaps due to security reason!). We arrived at the Kuala Kubu Bharu Hall around 35 minutes in the pitch dark night (well, it is Hulu Selangor, what do you expect??!) and the compound was congested! So, Nazirah and I took the bags with the ballots into the hall and gave them to the crews in charge. As the Team Leader, Nazirah had to settle the black-and-white errands on the stage along with the other leaders, so I’ve to wait for her for about another 30 minutes!
Azwan Ali a.k.a. Diva AA. Wasn’t he a great sport and a comical relief for all of us? Thumbs up for his flamboyance and he even nailed 90 votes! Hahahahaa!
By that time, I was already feeling drowsy and nauseated – probably because I only ate the “beehoon” at 3.30 p.m. which was catered for our breakfast; I couldn’t find the supposedly meal sponsored by the SPR. Sigh. Anyway, we went out from Kuala Kubu Bharu Hall circa 10.35 p.m. and arrived at Batang Kali around 11.10 p.m. and it was raining heavily. My head throbbed and I didn’t care about the whole political hullabaloos in social media/WhatsApps – I simply went to bed and slept.
Malaysians are really creative! The combination of political flags made into a gown. Wow!
Of course the next morning on 10th May 2018, I woke up at 6.00 a.m. because I wasn’t sure who won the election and the agreeable plan prior to the election was that school would resume its normal operation on the 10th of May. As I skimmed and scanned, I read the circular initiated by my Headmaster claiming that Thursday and Friday (10th and 11th May 2018) were gazetted as Public Holidays! So, Alhamdulillah!! BUT, I have to say that although I was still feeling the dizziness due to the tiring Election Day, I couldn’t resume my sleep as I was excited to follow the whole political scenes – a historical one, indeed!
The famous image circulated on Datuk Seri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah. Now, is Datin Seri Rosmah our very own Malaysian Imelda Marcos? I will write my opinion on this in the upcoming blog entry!
Now, who would have thought? I myself didn’t see this coming although I played my part in contributing to this, I admit! I will write on the Kedahans’ political avalanche sentiment in the upcoming entry. Congrats!
Like many other Malaysians, I was anticipating the appointment of our beloved Che’ Det, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as our 7th Prime Minister at 9.30 a.m. but alas, it was adjourned to 9.30 p.m. due to many inevitable reasons. I have to say that I am honoured to be part of this historical election. I would comment more on this election and my personal opinion in the upcoming entry. But, I am glad I did my part as a responsible Malaysian. Who would have thought that I would grow as a sensible Malaysian adult – when I was this reckless and “I-despise-politics-because-it-is-dirty” teenager 10 years ago (yes, I didn’t vote in 2008 when I was working in the bank and I remembered that Abang Ali, our AFFIN Islamic clerk/bouncer was quite disappointed with me); and now I was one of the Election Commission’s clerks??! Life is full of experiences that are meant to make us wiser, no?
Love you. And I envy when people in Facebook keeps updating their personal selfies with you and I’ve got none. Maybe I won’t be meeting you as you are now 92 years old. But always know that you are in my heart. I’ve always been Mahathir’s man all these while – as so many Kedahans/ Northerners. Only we didn’t speak that out loud due to bureaucracies and red tapes. I love you, Che’ Det. You inspire the New Malay spirit in me. One of the reasons why I am pursuing my PhD now.
Kudos to Malaysians. We dare to face the new music, exercising the true meaning of democracy, rising up to topple nepotism and kleptocracy (well, that is hard but at least not the ones who commit that in the large scales and burdened that onto the our shoulders, no?) and make our voice heard, the voice of the Rakyat. God bless, Malaysia!
An experience to remember for the lifetime. I was one of the election clerks in the 14th General Election. The historical, unexpected “Mother of All Election”!