Commentary Politics

Dear millennials, just who is your Sprite?

Finding Sprite

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

January 28, 2018

A Youth’s Take – A weekly column by Zaidi Azmi

WHEN asked to choose between Coke and Pepsi, a significant chunk of Malaysian millennials said they wanted neither of the two.

Instead they wanted Sprite.

But because there is no Sprite in the equation, most of them have decided to spoil their votes in the next general election (GE).

For those unfamiliar with the fizzy drinks allegory; Coke represents Barisan Nasional whereas Pepsi is Pakatan Harapan.

The jury however, is still out on who or what Sprite is.

Because apparently, the supporters of the votes-spoiling movement, #UndiRosak, do not have a crystal clear idea on the identity of their Sprite.

Some twitter users tweeted that a Sprite is someone who is charismatic, young and understands the aspirations of the youths.

No names however, were floated.

At a political forum two days ago, one of the proponent of the #UndiRosak, Maryam Lee, explained that such a clarion call was due to the pent-up frustration over consistent political gaffes made by Pepsi.

To her, the last straw –no pun intended– was when Pepsi named 93 year-old former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as their PM candidate.

“The opposition needs to realise that they are not entitled to get our votes just because Barisan Nasional sucks.

“We (the youth) know what we want but both sides do not have what we want. So we’re spoiling our votes to make a statement,” she said adding that whoever endorses her painstakingly prepared youth-centric manifesto will get her vote.

When asked this at the forum: “Since you spoke a great deal about knowing what the youths really want, why don’t you contest (in the election)?”

Maryam answered this: “I won’t contest because I’m not a politician. I always have this saying that one should not trust anyone in any political organisation.”

Apparently, this is a typical response from most millennials who are rooting for #UndiRosak.

What is off-putting with most #UndiRosak supporters is that while they are pushing for reform, they, almost on-cue, immediately shy away behind petty excuses when push comes to shove.

No one is born a politician. If you don’t see anyone capable of changing the way things are, then be the change you want to see.

Don’t have enough money to campaign? Start a GoFundMe page.

If Malaysians can donate RM1.5 million to PKR’s convicted tattletale, Rafizi Ramli, then who’s to say they will not support a woke and youthful candidate who has had enough of the currently “toxic political climate.”

There is no shame in asking for donations if one is confident that one is fighting for a right cause.

In fact, Malaysia’s independence was partly due to the gold bangles and bracelets that were donated in 1957 just so that the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and his delegates could fly to Britain for negotiations.

No matter how eloquent one may describe it, spoiling votes is not a third choice because it does not add the possibility of producing another victor in the Coke-versus-Pepsi electoral contest.

Indeed, one may not win but doing so sends a stern reminder to Coke and Pepsi that they are not the only choices Malaysians have.

Like what happened in the 2009 Bukit Selambau by-election where 13 independent candidates contested because they were unhappy with the then-resigned assemblyman who hopped into PKR after he won the seat as an independent candidate in the 2008 GE.

Although all 13 of them lost to the candidate from PKR, the party has had its majority severely dashed in the 2013 GE; from that of 2,362 to a razor-thin 530 votes.

A more recent example would be how Kelly Convirs-Fowler from the United States’ Democratic Party defeated the incumbent member of the Virgina House of Delegates, Ron Villanueva, last year.

Fowler, who is a first-timer, ran for office because she was disappointed over the Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

And this, fellow millennials, is how one makes a political statement.

But the fact that #UndiRosak movement continues to echo, especially among millennials, beckons the question: “Do millennials feel so entitled that they demand a Sprite but are too afraid or lazy to identify or even become one?”



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]