If you had told me to consider a job in politics two years ago, I’d have answered with a withering laugh and a resolute no. And yet here I am, having just completed my ‘tour of duty’ with my Member of Parliament and already reminiscing the wild, unpredictable, and occasional ‘I-don’t-actually-know-what-I’m-doing’ moments signature to the office.
It’s been a heck of a ride.
Not going to lie though, there are times I won’t exactly miss. As an officer to a politician, bearing the brunt of the uglier side of humanity was a daily occurrence. It’s one thing to read about the constant mess the country’s going through, it’s quite another to witness, and often times experience, the selfishness of cold, corrupted cowards.
Of course, I’m not just referring to those working exclusively in politics. Idiocy is indiscriminate of profession; I found that out the hard way.
But despite the two-year beating my idealism has taken, it remains surprisingly intact; in fact it’s taken a different form now, a more pragmatic, rational one, I think. And while unsavoury individuals have had a hand in tempering that idealism, the ones who have truly shaped it are those standing at the other end of the spectrum—the inspiring, selfless angels whose friendships I’m not entirely certain I deserve.
There’s an army of you superheroes I owe my thanks: YB Hannah Yeoh and her entire office, my spirited bunch of P104 intern-children, the regular INVOKE Malaysia Kelana Jaya phone bank volunteers, the various community leaders of Seri Setia and Subang Jaya, and the handful of statespersons and their supporting staff who are actual servant leaders.
However, my deepest gratitude goes to P104.
The value of the lessons I’ve gained from my time at the office is immeasurable. I’ve learned that the battles worth fighting for are often the toughest. I’ve learned that hypocrisy may lie behind apathy and inaction. I’ve learned that it’s important to always do the right thing even if—and especially if—another resents it.
But above all, I’ve learned that in striving for a better tomorrow, whether for the country, state or community, never forget the reason you choose to fight. The office embodied this lesson when part of our reason became each other.
And it shows. Regardless of whatever setback the office was thrown headlong into, we never stopped looking out for one another in ways unique to each P104-ian. Wong Chen insisting we go on an office trip to see fireflies. Abigail brewing us hot chai tea after a grueling day at work. Tania buying us gifts out of the blue for no particular reason.
Those are just the small gestures. I haven’t even gotten to the significant ones, or those from our office volunteers yet.
That said, I’m not implying that we’re the perfect posse; far from it. We’re a ragtag bunch of misfits who stumbled and fumbled into politics almost entirely by accident. I personally question on a regular basis the sanity of my choice to delay my pupillage and join a team who has chosen to shoulder a seemingly insurmountable challenge. But in the midst of the unbridled laughter and angry tears, the teasing lilts and the exasperated sighs, we became each other’s constant reminder that there is some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.
So thank you. To each and every one of you. You have given me unconditional support; it is only fair that I pledge mine in return.
Stay whelmed, and may the Force be with you all.
Nadirah Sharif Former Research Officer and “chief of staff” to the Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya