By Bhuwan Khadka, Perth
20 February 2017
It was 5:30 pm on Sunday the 19th of February 2017, my eyes fixed on the front door of Rivervale Community Centre in Perth. I could hear my heart pumping as I kept looking towards the entrance in utter nervousness and apprehension. It was my event, Meet the candidate- Bhuwan Khadka organised by The Greens WA. I am a Greens candidate for the seat of Belmont in the upcoming WA elections. Sunday’s programme, which was supposed to be a “community event”, was organised at my behest – for myself and my community, the Australian Nepali community based in Perth. I wanted to introduce myself to the community and speak about the policies I stand for. I was expecting encouragement and best wishes from my fellow Australian Nepalis living in Western Australia but all I got was shame and embarrassment.
I have been told that there are over 5000 Nepalis living in Perth but only 2 individuals turned up at the Meet the candidate event. One of them was my close friend, Deepak Sharma while the other was Rabin Bartaula who was the only one I did not know personally and attended the event because he wanted to know about me and my vision.
That’s 0.04% support from my “beloved” Australian Nepali community based in Perth. All I expected was 1% support from them — which comes to only 50 people. Only two participated.
I believe most of the community members did not turn up because it was not a birthday, wedding anniversary or some house-warming party that offers ‘Free Buffet Meals’ with ‘Free Hard Drinks’. All I could offer at my own event was ‘Free tea and coffee’. After reading this article, many might say, “I did not know otherwise I would have attended” and I shall not blame them. Because, I had sent messages to the so-called ‘leaders’ of different Nepali community organisations urging them to spread the word about the event. No one bothered to do so. Forget about sharing, they themselves did not turn up.
A week after I sent the request to community leaders, one of the top ‘leaders’ told me, just 24 hours before the event (…. when we met at a birthday party) that he was going to reply and say that he could not attend the event. I did not and do not believe him. Another “businessman” who accepted my Facebook invitation to attend the event and also shook my hand merely 24 hours before the event and promised to see me at the Rivervale Community Centre, did not have the courtesy to apologise for his absence. Similarly, another gentleman who travelled nearly 40 kilometres for a birthday party, told me that it was too far for him to attend my event which was only 3.5 kilometres further from the house where the birthday party was hosted. Forty kilometres were not “far” but 3.5 kilometres were unreachable! So much for the “community spirit” we keep harping on on the social media!
Such stone-cold response from the Australian Nepali community has hurt me immensely. Yet, I shall not give up that easily because I am a dreamer, because I am a diehard optimistic.
My message to the future young politicians or leaders is this: ‘Please do not expect anything from the Nepali community. They will let you down, let you deep down. They are in fact champion of this game of letting one down. So, be strong and hold on to your hopes.’
I always spoke highly of my community during my conversations with my colleagues within The Greens WA but now I need not spend a word. They have seen it for themselves. First-hand.
My wife says “Those Australian-Nepali citizens who voted for your party last time will not vote your party this time because you, a Nepali man, have stood up as a candidate”. I hope she is wrong. I was always proud to call myself a Nepali but yesterday, for the first time in 30 years of my life, I was ashamed to be a Nepali. For accurately, I am ashamed to be an Australian Nepali.
However, my values and my belief in the Greens remain unshaken.