After my mother and I performed our civil duty of voting, my husband and I had an easy afternoon of exercise, cooking at home, and listening to the radio for updates on the election results as they happened. We tried our best to stay up until the announcement was made about who won the simple majority of parliamentary seats. We passed out at 2am, just an hour short of the announcement. Waking up to a brand new Malaysia, Pakatan Harapan‘s win marks the first time in Malaysia’s history that the opposition has triumphed over the overbearing governance of Barisan Nasional, which ruled the country for six decades.
The issue I had with BN is the very fact that it was the ruling coalition for so long. There was no fresh blood being introduced, no fresh ideas. The country’s development was showing signs of stagnation, if not reversal.
In a country rated the eighth worst in the world for plastic waste, BN vowed to remove the 20 sen plastic bag fee from Selangor state if they won the election – not exactly the smartest move to nurture an eco-conscious community.
For Malaysia to be ranked the most obese country in Southeast Asia since 2014 largely hints of a national health epidemic not being addressed effectively enough from a governmental level. For example, our (now ex) Prime Minister simply telling Malaysians to lose weight, whilst being a bit on the tubby side himself, and then stating that his ability to play more sports is in God’s hands, isn’t exactly going to yield the best success rate of getting bums off couches.
Then there was that crazy long wait for last year’s implementation of the Animal Act 2015. Not complaining at all about the animal cruelty fine increment from a paltry RM200 to a minimum of RM20,000 and/or 3 years behind bars… but this law replaced the Animal Act of 195freakin3. Let’s just say it would nice to still be alive to see the next time the law gets amended.
Let’s take a look at the other side. The new, hopefully faster-acting alliance of Pakatan Harapan.
One glimpse of the homies that make up the opposition and one word comes into my mind: diversity.
They from all sorts of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds; a more proportional representation of the people. It is the first time in our history that the oldest- AND youngest-ever elected parlimentarians (new PM, Tun Dr. Mahathir at 92 years old and winner of Batu seat P. Prabakaran at 22 years old) AND the first-ever female Deputy Prime Minister (Dr. Wan Azizah) are representing the same party. To have so much diversity in one package would safely equate to different ideas and approaches to life and living. Different personal values. Therefore, ideally, tolerance, understanding and compromise. All three of which set the right tone for vegans and non-vegans to peacefully co-exist and more intuitive plant-based transitions to take place.
Many well-educated people in their twenties, like Prabakaran, would have most likely been exposed to the concept of plant-based eating through trends on social media. And Prabakaran has mentioned that he will use his position to be a voice for the youth… a youth that is growing in ethics awareness.
Environmentally conscious citizens can now celebrate the presence of Hannah Yeoh in parliament, who has made a pledge to save one of the last ‘green lungs’ of the Klang Valley, Bukit Kiara. Someone who understands the value of environmental preservation (and chooses to experience the hill hike first-hand, based on… her own free will) would most likely appreciate the efforts of those who also practice the plant-based lifestyle as a personal green initiative. Preserving an urban treasure that encourages the community to stay fit and active goes hand-in-hand with the health that arises from a whole foods plant-based diet, or at the very least, less meat consumption.
On top of these, there’s the coalition’s pledge to remove the controversial Goods and Services Tax. This abolishment might coax some money-tight citizens out of the woodwork to come out and explore the beautiful array of plant-based dining establishments that have been blooming in urban areas around the country over past three years, which is incidentally just how long GST has been around for.
In general, the four parties that make up Pakatan Harapan are united in three striking attributes: earnestness, a positive mindset, and a yearning for change. The growth of veganism also thrives on these very attributes. Not to say that I’m banking on any of the new seat-holders to start Instagramming their Smoothie Bowls, nor start boasting about their diet switch from rice to quinoa (*ahem ahem*), nor make plans to recognize Tempeh as a national food of Malaysia (although IMHO they should). But what I do sense is that the gears for a more mindful society are finally in place. And that’s a great start.