opinion : Erna Mahyuni

The seasoned journo’s guide to surviving the election

Erna Mahyuni

MARCH 14 — It is that time when Malaysian headlines become nearly impossible to tell apart from the Onion's.

The time when even toughened crime beat reporters cry because even they might be marshalled into reporting election news.

With the general election coming soon, let me share important tips to keep your sanity and blood pressure at healthy levels.

(Take all this with a grain of salt because one, I might not be entirely sane and two, I had a colleague who quit right after the last election because the whole experience made retiring look like the best thing ever!)

1. Take nothing at face value

Refrain from participating in the Malaysian pastime of reading a headline and immediately start frothing at the mouth. A headline doesn't tell the entire story unless of course you're reading the Daily Mail.

2. Probably vary your news sources

You don't have to read 10 or so sources (do we even have that many you can bear reading?) just perhaps avoid reading just the news you agree with.

3. Maybe just avoid election news

I recommend reading Malay Mail Online's lifestyle section instead. The Eat pieces in particular have been instrumental in increasing my waistline and is also the reason my friends will call me from anywhere, at all hours to ask “What's good to eat here ah?” Read MMO, Karen, please. 

4. Scroll down to the words

Sadly our politicians are generally not very photogenic. Not looking at their faces while reading whatever they felt like saying today will probably make the whole experience more tolerable.

5. Maybe take up meditation

People get a little bit too fired up about politics in this country and need to take a bit more of a chill pill. It's perfectly fine to care about current affairs but perhaps temper your reactions a little. I dedicate this tip to the particularly angsty readers who send in comments that make me wonder if so-and-so has burned down their village or cut in front of them in the Smart Tag lane.

6. Same story, same players

Except for maybe the new, about to be first-time voters, we have all seen this play before. Noise, theatrics, weird statements, a lot of shouting (for some reason). Ignore the theatrics, show up at the polling booth and then go have some banana leaf rice. Stay hydrated, look after yourselves and stay safe. The election season will be over before you know it. Selamat mengundi! (Happy voting!)

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.