Hem Raj Bhatta
28 April 2019
I am not a member of any political party which of course allows me to present my views independently and without prejudice. Based on my beliefs and principles, I am entitled to support a party of my liking, a party that I think has the right policies and ideas for this great nation I call home. As I am not bound by any political allegiance, I have my constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to support a candidate who is most likely to work for me and my community.
Over the years, I have admired politicians of all colours with all kinds of agendas. They were all fair, to the best of my understanding, at different points in time. However, here I am going to discuss the candidacy of a young, second-generation Australian-Nepalese which has gotten the diaspora pretty excited.
Pramej Shrestha, popularly known as Pjay Shrestha, has been chosen by the Liberal Party to stand in the 2019 federal election. Australian-Nepalese people living in the region, who are associated with other parties, may have an unwarranted dilemma whether to vote for Pjay or the candidate of the party they are member of or are loyal to.
The Labor Party representative in the area is a strong and respected candidate. Hence, without a whole-hearted support of the Nepalese diaspora, Pjay stands less of a chance.
Though political beliefs are often deeply ingrained in our minds, any party membership should not be held above who we are – Nepalese. Our unity to support Pjay, a candidate from within our community, is the need of the present time.
We must remember that first and foremost, we are Nepalese who have migrated to Australia for our own growth as well as to contribute to the growth of this wonderful country. In the process, we automatically end up contributing to the development of the nation we all come from. While we may have supported any party in the past, getting our Nepalese representative in the government or at least having a good fight would be a stepping stone for our advancement as a community.
Pjay’s “baby step” today will help us define and share our future and help us as a factor in the political balance of this country – particularly in marginal seats. This will give us a leverage to benefit our community and Nepal. It is in our best interest individually and collectively as a community to help Pjay to perform better and secure what is expected of him. After all, the Liberal party has given him an opportunity to stand for the ruling party in the May 18 election and possibly represent the people of the electorate not just for his ability and competency but also for his origin and identity as Nepalese.
No matter where we live, being Nepalese is part of our identity. We were, are and will be Nepalese for rest of our lives – immaterial of whether we hold Australian or Nepalese passports. It is in our blood, mind and body. From Momos to our mountains, from Lord Buddha to our cultural identity, Nepal and being a Nepalese are important to us – again, no matter where we live. Our language, history and nationality make us who we are. Our flag, music and nationality are some subjects that instantly bring fire to our blood and aggression to our history. We are the Gurkhas, recognized around the world for our honesty and hard work. Nepal and Nepalipan have to come before your party loyalty especially when we represent our migrating community outside of Nepal, where our solidarity and unity can serve us well in so many ways.
The nomination of Pjay Shrestha as the candidate for the seat of Barton is a rare and new kind of opportunity to represent our community and our needs. This new start will make our community stronger and better. Such a representation will serve not just us or our next generation, election of a Nepalese candidate in the government will pave way for future generations.
The ticket to Pjay in a way recognises our unity as a community and therefore we must show our strength by voting for our man. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must choose to be Nepalese before being a party member. A true Australian-Nepalese interested in a stronger community and its growth puts his or her country people first above party line. We are Nepalese by birth and heart and we will continue be one and our loyalty lies in a country over a party.
Originally from Nepal and a Sydney resident for over a decade, Hem Raj Bhatta is a Juris Doctor from UTS and practices law at Sydney-based Residency Legal
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