Monday, July 11, 2011

Kempen "Kebersihan"

Of all the countless videos circulating via fb and youtube, this has finally made me blogged. One cannot watch and be silent, regardless of whether you took part in the rally or not.

Truth that cannot be covered

My Long Walk in KL on a Saturday...

I went with a group of friends on Saturday, 9 July. We walked in pairs and a distance from each other, pretended we were total strangers. We took the LRT near my place, with police already lurking around LRT stations but we managed to get into KL early via Pasar Seni. Found ourselves loitering around, looking for breakfast and finally settled at Subway, one of the few places that were opened. It was also during these 'lepaking' sessions that I had the privilege to bump into "Aunty Bersih", who has created rave headlines and conquered the social media with her passion and courage.

KL was almost like a ghost town and the idea of a flashmob kept popping into my head! I had this imagination that suddenly, the supporters of Bersih would just break into a dance routine and we would be the most creative nation in our fight for a fair democracy and the police would have to think twice before firing anything at dancing citizens.

Okay, that aside, we proceeded to Starbucks Kotaraya to wait for BERSIH 2.0 to start. After getting lost into some misguided instructions, we found our way into the rally at Puduraya --- one of the hardest hit groups and the largest, by far. My friends and I were teared gas at least 4 times! This was when we told each other, we will stay together as much as we can and looked out for one another.

I remembered during one of the tear gas fired, it was probably just 100ft away from where I was. It HURT. Very much. I felt like my face was burning and eyes, swelled. I was struggling to grapple my way, coughing and choking on the chemical. Although equipped with a wet towel, it didn't help until strangers offered me salt. The remedy was almost immediate, salt made tear gas more bearable.

God intervened. It rained. HEAVILY. I never felt so good walking under the rain. It helped to clear the tear gas effects. Those who were Muslims were seen praising the name of Allah out loud, some even went down on their knees. I thought that was pretty admirable. "If God is with us, who can be against us?" came to mind.

We ran, into Tung Shin hospital. I remembered telling myself, "This is a hospital, they can't fire here." I was wrong. The FRU continued to fire. We were trapped. A Malay lady covered in her tudung held out her palm with salt, offered to anyone nearby. Again, a stranger made the tear gas more bearable for me. After the tear gas wore off, my friends and I were reconciled and we decided to just take our chances to climb over a slope behind the hospital. Our escape route. Somewhat adventurous. Again, there were some Malay dudes helping us in our escape, especially making sure the girls are safely pulled out from the mini-jungle.

We walked, to Jalan Alor and stopped for drinks at a mamak while checking Bersih and traffic updates. It was here that we celebrated Patrick, my housemate's birthday! The group sang a modified birthday tune - "Happy Bersih To You!" It was here we found out the rally was over and we can disperse. We also got news that someone died and that the police started arresting people at Tung Shin.

We walked to KLCC but to our surprise, the entrances had barricades, preventing people from going in. Suddenly, some firemen and police trucks just drove us by with sirens that I believe, were turned on to its maximum volume to scare protesters. We managed to get into the mall via the side entrance of Mandarin Oriental, briefly questioned politely by the security guard, "Where are you going?".

To our dismay, the KLCC LRT was closed. People were sitting around like refugees waiting to go home. We joined in after a while and finally, it opened around 6:10pm. I was extremely tired that evening but that was one of the best walks I had on a Saturday.

Pieces of my mind...

What I experienced and saw that day have left me with thoughts and questions to ponder on. The fact that thousands of people marched despite all the obstacles have shown that we have won that day. United we stand --- our voices to call for a fair election is stronger than ever. Not forgetting those who turned up in Korea, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Sweden! We are Malaysians. Period.

That rally was a civilized one --- no looting, no rioting and Malaysians looked out for each other. Maybe with the right leadership, we are not very far from Japan --- how the Japanese showed the world what a civilized nation meant during the recent tsunami. Maybe, we are ready to be a first world nation given time and guidance by the right government.

What I cannot believe are the ways the mainstream media spin and twisted the truths. How can anyone just lie through their teeth in the modern world of technology, where almost everything can be captured on phones? How can a Prime Minister's speech be a stand-up comedy?

Some may remarked that it is pointless to be a part of the rally. Both sides are also corrupted and questioned whether going for rallies can change anything. But it is our responsibility isn't it? If we see that something isn't right, we try to make things right, don't we? Sure, things don't change overnight and just like how far we've come till this day, we will surely get there someday. If you can envision a better world, then be a part to build it. Change has to start somewhere and usually, it starts with ourselves.

I did not register as a voter back in 2008 and did not vote when my country went through change. But in 2009, I registered and in 2011, I rallied. The experience being a part of the rally has stirred an awakening within me to be more conscious. I can no longer remain where I am, I must move forward and I want a better country.

I am a Malaysian and in the words of Elroi Yee, "I wasn't there for the ride, I was there to take some ownership of my country."

And being a Christian, don't ask me what's so Christian about going for a rally or being too political about things --- which totally missed the point. You are placed here in this country, you have a responsibility. This is your most basic right. How can you close the gaps of poverty or inequality of resources when the leaders are not doing their jobs right? Where is justice when the voices of the people are not heard? Let this speech by John F Kennedy be an inspiration to us all
"Ask not what can your country do for you, but what you can do for your country"

Dear Mr Prime Minister, I urge you to humble yourself and please do not forget who you serve and why your role exist in the first place. You cannot fight the people, you should not. You are supposed to protect them and help your country thrive.

Be transparent and grant us a fair election. We'll decide who should run Malaysia.


mingz said...

Thanks for sharing Joanne. Definitely an experience. Reading blogs and posts of those who went on the rally gave me hope that unity among the races in Malaysia still exists despite all the effort of some to create racial tensions.

enn@j said...

Hi Mingz,
Thanks for dropping by :) It was an awesome experience. Now, let's see what happens in the next GE!

Joy said...

Thank you for writing, Joanne.
Never again will our cry be left unanswered, never again will our plea be left unattended;
The day has come that nothing can separate us from the love we have for our land... a new day is dawning... let's embrace it! :)

Argentinadog said...

One of the better 'live' blogs of the rally I have read. Thanks for sharing, Joanne! :-D