by Jean Yeoh
Sep 2nd, 2015
Bersih 4 was my second street protest experience as a 70-year-old retired teacher, minus the excitement, but added more mixed feelings. I went to Bersih 3 with only one intention, for my three grandchildren. I went to Bersih 4.0 with two demands, spelt out on my self-made poster: for the next generation (in Chinese) and ‘utamakan pendidikan berkualiti (prioritise quality education).
Again my family gave me full blessing to participate, though knowing very well that it would be a bigger risk-taking adventure for me as what happened in Bersih 3 was still fresh in everybody’s mind.
But, ‘to Bersih 4 I will go’, despite reading lots of negative comments such as ‘so near the Low Yat fiasco, sure something more horrible will happen’, ‘what if the Red army came with bricks, sticks and even parangs’ ‘what is the use of going, still the same Malaysia and even worst then after Berish 3’and ‘Najib Abdul Razak is so desperate now he will try to create a scene so that emergency can be declared’.
My mind was made up. I felt that it was my duty as an educator who is as convinced as Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the street protest is the last avenue for the concerned rakyat to demand a change in the country’s leadership for our beloved country in such sorry stage.
I am saying loud and clear that Najib was wrong to label the Bersih 4 participants as disloyal citizens.
It was because we care so much that we took great risk to join in the protest, prepared to be arrested, to be beaten like in Bersih 3, to suffer tear gas and water cannon, and to take up the feat knowing very well that Bersih 4 would be worst with the ‘Red Shirts’ anti-protest threat, climaxed with a last minute ban for anything yellow bearing the words Bersih 4.
Was I deterred at last? No, so did the hundreds and thousands of Bersih 4 participants storming the streets near Dataran Merdeka on Aug 29, 2015 with a sea of brave yellow.
We were martyrs – like loyal citizens defying the government’s order, just because we were determined to grab the opportunity to demand for a better and clean government so that we and our next generation can lead a more respectful life with our heads held high internationally.
Some friends asked me this question – are you not worried that you may lose your pension? My reply was: No. On the contrary, if I don’t go I don’t deserved to get paid. The Chinese has a saying ‘ if you get paid, then you have to help solve your boss’s problem (na ren qian cai, tie ren xiao zai).
Now that the government is in deep trouble, as a pensioner, I just can’t sit there and do nothing! If nothing is done, our country will one day be like Greece, pensions cant be paid due to eventual bankruptcy!’
At the rate scandals are emerging in our country just within a short span of a few weeks is shocking: PM confirmed to have pocketed RM 2.6 billion, the deputy PM and another minister removed, attorney-general sacked at the helm of drafting criminal charges (admitted by one yes-man), investigators either became investigated or transferred or asked to take leave or warned, sacked official exchanging PR with lips sealed…
Anyone with a sound mind will be suspicious that our leaders have many things to hide! Can we, citizens who are still sane, just accept all these atrocious happenings and do nothing? To Bersih we went – to demand for the rationale behind all the madness. But, unbelievably, our PM labeled us ‘disloyal’ while his yes men echoed in with ‘kotor’, ‘childish’, ‘tak sopan’…
As a teacher, I feel dismayed and utterly unbelieving that there are ministers who not only accept such glaringly insane actions taken by our desperate PM, but even go to the extent of ‘making up’ hilarious statements to justify his involvement in the ‘donation’ scandal.
We had a minister who harped on GPA 3.85 to defend his nonsensical comments; we had another minister who could not even bother to check chronicle before announcing that the RM 2.6 billion was donated in 2013 to the PM to fight the non-existent-yet IS; we had yet another minister, fearing being out shone, stated that it was nothing wrong for the PM to receive a donation to win the 2013 general election against DAP, funded by the Jews and Christians, and forgetting the fact that if it were so, DAP’s registration would have been immediately revoke then!
Our education is truly in crisis. The unintelligent statements uttered by some outspoken ministers lately have one thing in common: they show that our education system is in deep trouble. It is a crisis that a responsible and accountable government would seriously address . Forget about the 2020 vision. We will not be able to achieve it because we are marching backwards instead of forward in academic performances.
he younger generation is the nation’s architects . We need their critical, creative and yet constructive thinking power to help Malaysia stay competitive in the challenging 21st century.
Malaysia’s dismay performances in international assessment on students’ academic performance have given enough evidence that our education system needs serious and genuine effort to address the deterioration.
We were ranked 50 out of 65 in 2012 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) and our students’ academic standard was found to be seven years lagging behind the top scoring countries such as Singapore, China, and South Korea. Even Vietnam from where we import our domestic helps and foreign workers did better than us! (ranked 17th).
It is no wonder that we are hearing comments like ‘if we don’t buck up, we will be one day become an exporter of Malaysian cheap labour instead.’ The Philippines is an example for reference.
Time and again we read about corruption in the education departments through the auditor general’s reports, such as purchasing poor quality but over priced computers, lab equipment, teachers’ PBS keep-on-hanging online system etc etc. But, were actions taken to punish the culprits in order to eradicate corruption in education which is most crucial to national building?
I demand ‘utamakan pendidikan berkualiti’ as a patriotic Malaysian who cares about the education of our torch-bearers, our national builders, our hope for the future . Is that ‘kotor’,’ disloyal’ or ‘stupid’?
What about the racial make up of the Berish 4 participants ? Yes, it is true that the number of Chinese street protesters is increasing over the years, especially noticeable at Bersih 4 when PAS refused to participate.
More willing to show their real sentiment
I would say that it is a good sign that the Chinese are more willing to be seen in showing their real sentimental towards an oppressive government, for being a punching bag when something goes wrong, even in the case of PM’s 2.6 billion scandal.
My hat off to the deputy minister’s creativity in bringing the Chinese into the picture: that our PM had to receive a gigantic political donation of RM 2.6 billion to help Umno defeat the Chinese chauvinist DAP in GE 13!
Most of the Chinese X generation are ‘kaisi’. Their main objective in life is to earn a decent and prosperous living in Malaysia. They do not care and dare not question who governs. Time and again they are called ‘pendatang’ no matter how hard they try to be part of the country loyally – by paying income tax dutifully to help financing the country’s infrastructure, to take care of the payroll of the ministers and the oversized civil service.
They know very well that riots may affect their business, destroy their hard earned status, hence they forbid their younger generation to be involved in any anti-government activities. The Chinese crowd was absent in previous Bersih mainly due to this ‘kaisi’ attitude of the elders.
However, the present unprecedented scenario with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) forcing many traditional businesses to round up, the ringgit shrinking, share market tumbling, PM pocketing huge donation from mysterious donor said to be for fighting the Chinese, with the future looking more and more uncertain, they feel that it is time they take the risk and join in a street protest to ‘let off steam’.
While most simple-minded rural Malays were hesitant as to what route to take in the chaos, to show loyalty to their leader or to demand a change of leadership, coupled with the unwillingness of PAS to mobilise their grass roots, the racial composition for Bersih 4 was dangerously upset.
Of course, this God sent outcome is favourable to Najib’s camp who is all ready to use it to resuscitate their drowning leader amidst a determined old man’s onslaughts. Again the Chinese are receiving the punches!
Much to the organisers’ relief, the Malays’ disappointing decreased participation in Bersih 4 was offset by the sensational repeated appearances of the iconic Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I gave this energetic old man a hearty salute. He chose the right time to land his strike – by appearing in Bersih 4 to show his support to the rakyat demanding for leadership accountability and clean governance.
Like a prodigal son
He is like a prodigal son, pardoned for all his wrongdoings and respected for mending up.
Now that hundreds and thousands of Malaysians have bravely stood up in the country and worldwide, Najib and his yes men must not be harping on the fact that the rest of the Malaysians are with the government and carry on ‘business’ as usual. The country is definitely not all right!
Najib must resign and let another Umno leader take over the captainship until the next general election. No other excuses for pocketing the RM 2.6 billion can be accepted anymore. The trust is gone! Dr Mahathir and the Bersih 4 participants have done their part. The baton is now passed to you, the silent majority, especially the Umno Malays. It is only you who can save our beloved country now!
Listen to Dr Mahathir. He is not senile at 90, but on the contrary, he is still able to argue his case convincingly. I hope respectful leaders like Saifuddin Abdullah, Zaid Ibrahim, Rafidah Aziz and Noor Faridah Ariffin together with the G25, will keep on their effort in guiding the Malays to save the country, by demanding the PM to go and his yes-men who also have also pocketed millions (as admitted by one) be replaced.
Finally, I would like to complement the police force and the Bersih 4 organisers for doing a great job to make sure that the 34 hours demonstration was peaceful throughout, with the ‘red shirts’ pre-warned by the police not to provoke and the Bersih 4 security guarding the forbidden Dataran Merdeka.
We know that the policemen were also silent supporters because we saw some thumbs-ups when the police trucks passed by. After all, they are also concerned parents who wish for a brighter future for their next generation!
Joining Bersih 4 to demand for reform for a better Malaysia is not disloyal. Accepting huge donation as much as RM 2.6 billion from a foreign country which may have undisclosed conditions attached is definitely denting one’s loyalty to the country. Corruption in the form of cash or deeds is like a cancerous tumour that must be removed. If Bersih 5 is needed to demand for a clean and accountable government, I will still join in as a patriot. Will you?