Selamat Hari Merdeka

Your Facebook newsfeed was probably flooded with tonnes of news and posts that are in yellow in the last 3 days whether or not you were supportive of the Bersih 4 rally.

When Bersih 3 was held three years ago, I was sitting at home keeping up with news and updates from the media and friends who were there. This time around, I was there for myself with a couple of friends. Of course, we've all heard about the horror stories about teargas and water cannons, and just days before Bersih 4 was going to happen the police mentioned something about 'taser guns'. I believe many of us managed our expectations and prepared for the worst - educating ourselves with information such as what to do when there's teargas and perhaps even to the point of memorising phone numbers in case we got arrested.


This time around, the rally lasts for 2 days. On Saturday, hundreds were already gathering on the streets of Kuala Lumpur when we arrived around 10am-ish. People were already making their presence felt. 


More and more people spilled the roads by noon and were waiting for the rally to officially start at 2pm. Before that, we were just walking around and had a light lunch at Old Town inside Central Market. 


Approaching 2pm, more and more were gathered and everyone is already chanting and blowing their vuvuzela if they have one. Police were there to assist the traffic too because buses were operating as usual.



It's funny we didn't dare get so close to Dataran Merdeka (the hot spot) and decided to park ourselves further back in the middle of the long Jalan Tun Perak but it just so happen that the place we were seated at was another meeting spot which we didn't know of. I take it as it is destined for us to get so close and we were able to listen to the speakers most of the time although the sound system was not at its best.


We stayed until around 5.30pm and this was my final view of the crowd on Saturday. A lot of people left but there were quite a number of people who were also making their way down town. 

Coming back home, after being disconnected from the Internet for a few hours, I keep updated with what was going on through social media updates. I was encouraged to see that the crowd was persevering, which is not something easy for us as most of the rally-goers, I assume, are pampered urbanites who live life rather comfortably. It's some sort of achievement that we're proud of haha. It's some sort of sacrifice that people are learning to make. One step at a time. And even when it rained on Sunday afternoon, their semangat didn't drizzle out.



It was a last minute decision but last night, I was there again. This time, we went closer to the main stage at Dataran Merdeka. We spent about 2 hours chilling in front of Swiss Hotel as the roads were packed as people was waiting to countdown and the closing of the the rally.

The atmosphere was the same. Everyone is excited for the closing moments - singing Negaraku with thousands and thousands of fellow Malaysians. We embraced the beautiful moment as long as we can, and quickly dispersed after the national song was sung. Still, the spirits were soaring high, and we continued chanting as we part ways with faces that we may not remember seeing..

A summary of my thoughts for the whole rally:

1. It was peaceful. The atmosphere was carnival-like. People are walking on the streets freely - chanting, singing or just observing. Of course, there is bound to be troublemakers. At the first day, even before the rally started someone shouted "pencuri, pencuri" and I saw this dude running like he was jogging and even had the guts to look back and see if anyone was catching him. Eventually another uncle stopped anyone from chasing the thief, not allowing the thief to disrupt the peaceful environment. Another was towards the end of the rally yesterday when someone lit a firework and injured 4 innocent people. That's inhumane and simply evil but thankfully everything was under control and the person responsible was caught.

2. Where were the Malays? Don't get me wrong. I am dead curious about this. I know some common replies to this question was to say that "You should see it as Malaysians, not by race" and that "Nobody has the right to criticize who did not come just because you did". Or other reasons like PAS did not attend or that they went on holiday. Still, these reasons do not justify the numbers for me. The simple reason why is because Malays make up more than 60 percent of the demographics in Malaysia. We, Malaysians of all races, must understand that for us to achieve the demands of Bersih such as electoral reform and a transparent government, we need everyone to be part of it and that includes the ones that make up the biggest demographic in Malaysia. Which is why I have raised the question as I want to dig deep into the truth, ask friends who did not come for the rally - hey, why weren't you here? As to why no one bats an eye when Malays made up more than half of the rally-goers in the past Bersih rallies? It's only logical and obvious because Malays have that kind of population, and that is why some people like me are wondering... so... what changed? I only want to know and I have no interest in calling others cowards for not joining. In fact, I have plenty of friends from all races who stayed at home for many different reasons. I only want to know. I want to understand. So please, don't get me wrong. As Wong Chin-Huat puts it: "Will I blame our Malay friends who don't join us? Of course no. Everyone has every right to want the country to be cleaner, freer and more democratic. That needs not have anything to do with ethnicity or religion."

3. I really dislike some acts by the Opposition that are rather insensitive such as speaking in Chinese dialects. I understand that most of the participants of this rally this time comes from the Chinese but as leaders they should know better. Rally-goers have a lot to learn too, such as singing songs in Cantonese and Mandarin. We want to do something that can involve everyone and that is possible. This is why I always believe that every Malaysian, no matter how terrible, can use Bahasa to communicate because it is the common language that every Malaysian should share.

4. More to do after this. When people ask me why am I there for my answer is simple: I just want to tunjuk perasaan. I think the government has gotten a clear message that a lot of urbanites have enough of all the BS and want better governance, more accountability. Of course, things are not going to change overnight. I think most of us get that. But there is power in numbers. Each person who believes in the demands on Bersih, whether they were there at the rally or not, will feel encouraged to know that they are not alone and they can fight along together. Each of us has a part to do. If we want to stop corruption, all levels must stop even from the lowest levels. Yes, that includes us not trying to bribe the policeman after we made an offence. 




Thing are going to be "back to normal" when tomorrow comes. But for each and everyone of us who have lived the moment, whether you are part of the rally or not, we have witnessed a historic moment. And there is more to come.


Selamat Hari Merdeka, Malaysia.


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