Pat Lu and my fellow pahlawans arrived as early as 9am on April 28th, they stayed with colleagues of WAO and Abimga at Pasar Seni. Because I only landed in Kuala Lumpur the night before and was suffering from a slight vertigo from pressure change during flight; I only got into Pasar Seni at about 2.15pm.
The journey on the LRT into the city center was a breeze, the trains were light in passenger traffic and many young people in yellow were taking the same train from the Paramount Garden station where I boarded the train. I found that this time around, people are very comfortable wearing yellow; be it the official Bersih 3.0 T-Shirt or any tinge of yellow they can put on.
The phones were not working and SMS took a long time to reach; I could not connect with Pat and the Pahlawans, so I joined Celine, Choy and our friends from Gerakan Penang. We moved to the street between the Bar Council building and HSBC; joining the rest of the crowd; just milling around and standing in.
>Link Info : General Issues - Politics -Bersih 3.0
Our goal was simple, be there; not having to do anything, but just being there for Bersih 3.0. For us; the power is in turning up in numbers and standing around peacefully to demonstrate our seriousness in supporting the cause of Bersih 3.0; the cause for a better Malaysia through cleaner and fairer elections. The crowd was orderly; sober but purposeful.
To us, peaceful demonstration sends a more powerful message; the message is not directed at the recalcitrant authorities; but to fellow Malaysians; that we do have rights and we can safeguard our rights when we stand united.
Solidarity of the Rakyat
The people who were out there, regardless of race and creed demonstrated tremendous solidarity. The tension of Bersih 3.0 was much lower than Bersih 2.0; instead there is an atmosphre of carnial in the air; T-Shirts, scarves, masks, ballons, banners and playcards; flowers and accessories that color the streets yellow.
This time around we are heartened to see many more young people, families and for our section of the town; Chinese formed the majority. It was peaceful although congested with people milling around; chatting and chanting intermittently the Bersih call, until at around 3.30pm or about, tear gas were fired at the crowd.
We felt as though the police had ambushed us as the crowd at our section was doing nothing; people were just lingering while some prepared to leave; when all of a sudden, fire gas were fired from the buildings above. The entire area turned into mayhem and everyone ran for his or her lives.
I experienced being tear-gassed for the first time. Thanks to Celine and Choy who handed me the wet towel and salt water in time, I regained my vision soon, and we moved in a cluster towards Bukit Bintang, as the police were chasing from behind.
The crowd did not panic, it just moved away from the aggressive police attack. Like Bersih 2.0; the rakyat were helping each other out; passing salt and giving a helping hand to get away from the attacking police and FRU.
The Police Knows No Respect
We knew the police were carrying out orders from some higher authorities, those orders only demonstrated the arrogance and the total lack of respect or regard for the people. The authorities blamed Bersih 3.0 organizers for not taking up the government’s offer to move to alternative venues proposed by the government.
The fact is; Merdeka Square is symbolic and being at the Merdeka Square is the message the Rakyat has for the world. Bersih is not about getting tens of thousands out on the street to show defiance, it is about reinforcing a message that Malaysians want to clean up the system and move truly towards independence from bad governance and manipulative politics.
Obviously the authorities did not agree with this point of view; and they keep on demonizing the Bersih organizers. The fact is the turnout has at least grown 5 times from Bersih 2.0’s 50,000 to Bersih 3.0’s 250,000 is good enough to show that more and more people agree with Bersih that the current electoral system and governance is seriously faulty.
Judging by the turnout and the demographics of the crowd; the people have shown quiet defiance of the authorities; the BN government has lost all credibility to the Rakyat. The People have no choice but to reject the current ridiculous misrule.
Instead of respecting the wish of the people and cede to their wishes; the authorities continue to believe might can suppress and control the people. Anyone with average IQ would have concluded that Bersih 3.0 could have been a non-event if Merdeka Square has been allowed for a 2 hour sit in. Well, we were naïve, the government’s refusal to allow this was all stage managed; they want to manufacture chaos with their agent provocateurs.
If you watched the videos sent in by eyewitnesses at Bersih 3.0; you would have the following questions:
a. Why would tear gas and water cannon be used when the crowd was just standing there peacefully;
b. Why would the police acted after the organizers have already announced and asked the crowd to disperse;
c. When the PDRM showed their video of the police car that crashed fast to the crowd by the curb, and the protestors crowded round the car to over turn the police car, you wonder how come a lone police car came by to crash into this crowd; and what happen to the thousands of FRU and police officers standing nearby, how come they did not come efficiently to bring the scene under control?
d. The charge that the protestors broke the barricade to enter Merdeka Square is also suspicious. Eyewitnesses said that the go –ahead was given by the police to enter. Again this is so suspicious as the crowd was there since last night; and in spite of the tension and emotions; no one came forward to break the barrier until after the organizers had asked the crowd to disperse.
BN continues with its own theatre
As someone on the ground who witnessed the event; all we can said to the authorities is “you can continue to stage theatre; but your acts are so bad that nobody believes you.” You can continue to fabricate lies with manufactured acts to demonize Bersih, technology has rendered you naked; you would only embarrassed yourself more.
It is your recalcitrant attitude and your stupidity that got you there; those 250,000 people in the KL City center, all over Malaysia and overseas cannot be wrong! Everyone could have stayed home on a Saturday resting or doing something else if they are not upset or angry enough to brave the heat and danger of going onto the street to send this much needed message.
You ignore this message at your own Peril – the time will come. You can’t ignore the writing on the wall; it will just take a few more attempts to get there.
Partnership with Civil Society
Malaysian politicians must learn and mature in their role in their partnership with civil society.
First, politicians must recognize and respect that the people are the boss. When Civil Society takes the lead, the cause is non –partisan and civil society is the leader. If any politicians or elected representative participates; they do so in their personal capacity as a Rakyat, not as a leader of their party or constituency; therefore the command belongs to Bersih, the civil society organizer.
Politicians who are YB or YAB must understand that these ranks are given to them by the Rakyat, not some imperial or feudalistic birthright. Politicians gained more respect and support if they respect that.
BERSIH is not a protest, it is a process
The biggest winner of Bersih is the Malaysian people. In a year, the crowd has grown from 50,000 to 250,000, plus the thousands who log on to the follow the event; it is the growing consciousness and political awakening of the people that we are concerned and are celebrating.
We are particularly heartened to see young people and Chinese families joining the street walk; it is obvious that people are coming out of the make believed fear that has terrorized Malaysian society for a long time; and that people are beginning to understand that they do have rights, that they can stand up for their rights and the power of one is critical, each and everyone is important to make up crowd that gives critical mass to the message.
People are also beginning to take responsibility as a group; that we must all work together to Say No to mis rule and bad governance; we cannot sit at home and expect some other people to do it for us.
The arrogance of the government is the cause of this outrage. The congregation of issues; Bersih’s electoral reform, Lynas’ s toxic rare earth plant, the rape of Jalan Sultan for an unneeded LRT line, the injustice did to Tan Beck Hock and many more. The Bersih process will go on and on, and the PEOPLE are ready for that.
The lawyers from the commendable the Bar Council are there for the people, this time around at Bersih 3.0; the medical PR actioners and health workers came out in droves voluntarily to organize the medical support for the crowd. We are making true progress; nobody ordered them to come, they came with their hearts to serve with love for this country.
Are you proud to be a Malaysian? I am
Are you proud that you were there at Bersih 3.0? You bet, I am.
Malaysia can only be a better place if Malaysians are united in this purpose; and reforming the electoral system is the only way forward to build a proper functioning democracy for this country.
We will stay undaunted; even if it need to get to the nth Bersih event.
If you could not make it to Bersih 3.0; we will see you at the next Berish rally.
(Pahlawan Volunteers is an advocacy group madeup of a congregation of Cyber-Malaysians who believe that Our Country is our Responsibility and that each and everyone of us must stay engaged with the development of our soceity. Pahlawans support any groups or parties that does the right thing for the country.