The Parable Of The Rain Tree – A Personal Experience

By Goh Keat Peng

While some watch birds, I have always preferred trees myself. The best break I ever have always involves sitting where my eyes can behold the wonders of trees, unfailingly and truly a sight for my tired eyes, mind and heart.

Coming from Taiping, my favourite tree is the raintree, tall and sprawling. At the Taiping Lake Gardens, the branches of the raintree majestically bend down towards the water forming a manificent canopy of green archways over the road. You haven’t been to Taiping without cycling or driving under those archways, a singular sublime experience to cherish for a very long time.

Raintrees do last a long time. In Taiping, they were there long before I was born and no doubt will be there long after my time on this earth.

What better symbol therefore for the status of Perak democracy than the humble raintree!

Derogatory talk, therefore, of the extraordinary session of the Perak State Assembly convened on Tuesday 3 March 2009 at 10.20am under the raintree across the road from the Perak State Secretariat Building is completely misplaced, shortsighted and shallow.

Barred from their normal home by the FRU, the State Assembly conducted its session under the raintree. As I walked towards it, I was recognised by some drivers/bodyguards and given access finding myself suddenly no more than thirteen feet from the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) and just five feet from the Speaker of the Assembly surrounded by full-suited state assemblymen. The business was conducted in an orderly, solemn manner and even the large crowd forming the outer circle quickly caught the mood and followed the proceedings in a reverent and respectful manner. For an outdoor environment, this was no small achievement.

Elsewhere this proceeding may have been much maligned and pronounced illegal but being there I saw nothing that was in any way discrediting to the august assembly.

In fact, this was very much a people’s parliament. As the rakyat, common people had access to the State Assembly proceedings. They came from all walks of life, dressed properly but without having to don formal (and expensive) clothes. As many who wanted to observe the proceedings had access to it. Despite the absence of the usual forbidding uniformed security personnel, neither myself nor the countless others sensed a security threat. The agenda was to the point and understandable to those present.

If this was not exemplary of what democracy should be, what is? It was people-friendly, accessible, pro-rakyat, responsible, responsive, orderly but welcoming. A kind of going home to the kampung or home-town feeling. Before my eyes, a grassroot state assembly session was taking place.

It was an intensely uplifting reinvigorating experience for me; a lesson in grassroot democracy. In one extraordinary moment, we see that democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people. Its symbolism is full of meaning, encouraging much imagination and dreams. YES WE CAN!

For all these weeks, the people could see only blockages, their wishes denied at every stage. By-elections for the three seats deemed to have fallen vacant with the presigned resignation letters; “No!” says the elections commission. Dissolution of the state assembly to pave the way for fresh elections; “No!” says the Ruler. Extraordinary session of the State Assembly; “No!” says the High Court. Entry into the State Assembly Hall; “No!” says the Federal Reserve Unit.

We saw only the negative, prevent-at-all cost strategy of the “new government”. Conscious or not, the message which comes out to the people is completely straightforward and unmistakable: “We just want to form the government without having to face elections by the people or having to prove our majority status by facing the state assembly; our claims to legitmacy is sufficient proof.”

Among its virtues, the humble raintree is resilient, durable, weather-hardened, withstanding years upon years of abuse of every kind. Without dedicated care or favour, it survives on its own. Left on its own, it thrives and grows. Human intervention and interference on the raintree is for human convenience not necessarily for the sake of the raintree.

After fifty-one years of independence, we Malaysians are now on a daily basis clearly seeing the strong arm of interested parties dismantling the pillars of democracy and the blatant attempts at bringing about the alchemy of the separation of powers. The signs are ominous and the times are very worrisome.

If not under the raintree, with all its comforting symbols of peace, hope, persistence, perseverance and durability, where else should I take my stand? Where else may I find shelter from the ruthless elements?

  1. #1 by k1980 on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 1:32 pm

    I have a premonition that the ISA is going to be used against Speaker V Sivakumar and other PR leaders for nullifying the power grab by umno in Perak. If A. Kogan could be branded with a hot iron by 11 policemen, who are still free and yet to be charged with murder after 2 months, imagine what umno can do to their opponents

  2. #2 by voice_70 on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 1:51 pm

    Coming from the wettest town, where the Taiping (Maxwell) Hills stands forever and the serene environment of the row of raintrees lined the lake garden. I wish PR the best and be as resilient yet majestic as the RAINTREE.

  3. #3 by Common Citizen on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 2:06 pm

    Hello Uncle Lim

    This is the 1st time I’m writing in your blog site.

    Raintree too have a special place in my heart. Back in my school when I was in Form 1 (Methodist Girls School Ipoh), we girls have to wait for our afternoon session class under the giant rain tree. There were girls from eight classes. Imagine how old the tree was. Whether the sun scorches right onto our skin thru the small gap of the giant canopy, we were contended to sit and relax back then.

    Now even when i have left my beloved school over 18 years ago, i just love to see the beautiful tree located in the midst of the field whenever i passby my old school. it leaves me a sweet memory.

    I was never interested in politics back in Dr Mahathir’s era. Things were going well (or perhaps how it seems to be).

    I have heard much about your name “Lum Ghet Seong” from the mouths of my late granny, late aunt and all the folks in Pasir Pinji during my childhood years. I did not know who you were then. But i know you must be someone very special and a VIP ;)

    I did not understand why would you and YB Karpal Singh were so keen in “fighting for rights”. However, my eyes were opened since few years ago when we began to see the dirty tricks the government is doing to achieve its power crazy goals.

    Thank you Uncle Lim. Thanks to YB Karpal Singh too. Thanks for your life full of commitment and struggle for us. Thanks for the sacrifices and life full of thorns you have gone through.

    Our salute to you…..

    Ipoh, Perak and all of Malaysia.

  4. #4 by Kelvenho on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 2:07 pm

    Dear LKS, I am sure it will be good if PR candidates for the Perak
    by election wear T-shirts having a picture of the raintree print on it
    with the wording ” Please vote PR for democracy “.

  5. #5 by bennylohstocks on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 2:15 pm

  6. #6 by gyp on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 2:36 pm

    During emergency before Malaya Indepedence, CHINESE fight CHINESE, and thousands of death against the Chinese communist for “democracy” and what is achieved today Malaysia.

    Will you the Malaya fight against the UMNO the injustice, corruption, racist, inequity and pirate?

    Bring us all Malaysian a justice, fairness, democratic country called MALAYSIA.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 2:41 pm

    MCA and gerakan are criticizing Penang State Executive councilior for Tourism claming that he was unable to speak good English in Australian expo. But why are they not condemning the thousands of Science and Mathematics teachers who are unable to speak English during lessons in classes, thus destroying the future of their tens of thousands of students.

  8. #8 by i_love_malaysia on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 4:19 pm

    BN-UMNO Govt and gangs are going to ban planting of RAINTREE through out Malaysia and to chop down and uprooted all RAINTREE and burn them within 24 hours!!! ROS is going to ban any political party to use the symbol of RAINTREE with immediate effect. Parliament is going to pass a new law banning the mentioning of the word RAINTREE through out Malaysia and seeking the helps of UN Assembly to do the same ASAP!!!
    Why you may ask??? Because it symbolises “THE BIRTH OF MALAYSIAN BABY DEMOCRACY!!!”

  9. #9 by taiking on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 4:26 pm

    308 was a historic first milestone for malaysians and for democracy in malaysia.
    309 marks the historic second milestone down the path set by the first milestone.
    To a large extent the two events are predictable for there are already more than sufficient writings on the wall up and down the country.
    But what amazes me is the pace at which the events progress. Tuan Rempit McBullys themselves are doing us a great favour. They are speeding things up for us with all their stupid and ridiculous and arrogant and wrong actions and reactions.
    So the third milestone ought to be take place sooner than the expiry of a full year from now.
    Let’s keep our hopes up.
    It wont take long.

  10. #10 by i_love_malaysia on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 4:28 pm


    MCA and Gerakan said that Law could work for big countries like China, Japan & Korea. So they are not saying that Law is not competent except his english language!!! If language is the problem, just give him time to improve or to employ translator!!! Many ex and present BN people also tak tau bahasa english!!! to them, what is most important is to know how to count money!!! Not just thousands of ringgits but millions if not billions!!!

  11. #11 by gofortruth on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 4:40 pm

    BN coalition is a scale, what’s the best logo for Pakatan Rakyat?

  12. #12 by k1980 on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 5:25 pm

    The best logo for Pakatan Rakyat is a broom sweeping bn into the dustbin of oblivion

  13. #13 by vsp on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 9:13 pm

    I won’t be surprised if UMNO decide to take revenge against the raintree. Now the raintree has shown the people how beastly and abominable the BN government has descended into. They are so evil that they will destroy everything that are not to their liking. So the raintree will be the natural victim of UMNO vindictiveness and barbarity.

    Just wait and see.

  14. #14 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 - 11:12 pm

    Oh, Keat Peng, you may wish to add that many a time, wearied travellers would find rest, comfort and solace under its protective canopy.

    Malaysian travellers sojourning through this troubled time period would be familiar with the invigorating freshness of the foliage, relishing the protection from the harsh elements above and beyond.

    I am all for raintree democracy – open, transparent, down-to-earth, rooted in the anchors and integrity of mother earth, unperturbed by the rolling farts of puny politicians who scrape past, majestically and proudly exuberant over the thunderous clappings of the heavens, it now spreads its shade for the world to share.

    So BN, take a leaf from the raintree and be admonished by the parable. Some things are immortal…and raintree democracy is one of them.

  15. #15 by gyp on Thursday, 5 March 2009 - 8:18 am

    I won’t be surprised if UMNO decide to take revenge against the justice. Now the justice has shown the people how beastly and abominable the BN government has descended into. They are so evil that they will destroy everything that are not to their liking. So the justice will be the natural victim of UMNO vindictiveness and barbarity.

    Just wait and see.

  16. #16 by Thomas Lee on Thursday, 5 March 2009 - 7:24 pm

    Let’s use the raintress as the official symbol for Oakatan Rakyat’

    As a plant, it represents life and growth. Being grown outdoor, it is a symbol of transparency and accountablity. Its deep roots represent firm solid foundation in the good earth of the nation. The tree also provides shelter and shade for the people, protecting and shielding them. Its wide branches can symbolish the extend of its influence and impact. Its green stand for things beautiful and pleasant. Above all, the tree is a glorious symbol of what is good and true.

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