Freedom, imagined

By Adrian Chew
June 29, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 29 — Imagine this.

Tens of thousands of us came from all over to exercise our fundamental rights. In our midst were foreign elements; their presence threatening and encouraging at the same time.

The organisers of the event gave us clear instructions: Wear shirts of a certain colour. Be at the designated staging sites at the appointed time.

Alternative routes were suggested in case the authorities decided to block access to the sites. Many arrived hours ahead and camped inside their vehicles, counting down the hours to the event we’d all anticipated for so long.

And when the time came, friends, families, strangers — Malaysians and, yes, even foreign instigators — all moved in unison, in a sea of one colour. We were determined to get past all the obstacles and challenges that were put in our way.

It was a huge event. Traffic came to a standstill. Commuters were affected and businesses no doubt suffered too.

At major intersections and roundabouts, we’d come face to face with hostile forces. Car drivers gave us disapproving looks. I personally saw men on motorcycles cussing at us, trying to instigate an incident that would spark a flashpoint.

Some of us lost our nerve and fell out of formation.

But through it all, from our staging sites to the end of our route, were the men of the Royal Malaysia Police. On their bikes, putting themselves between us and impatient motorists; standing in the middle of intersections, holding back heavy traffic with nothing but their bare hands; walking along with us side by side, making sure we kept within the safe lanes.

They encouraged us, smiled and gave us friendly nods as we moved past them. A few asked us to keep up the pace and gently moved us in the right direction.

We came together in this movement because of our belief in the cause of freedom. The freedom to express ourselves, to join with others who shared this passion, and to exercise it knowing no one could deprive us of this deep-rooted desire to be free.

In so many ways, it was us having a say in where we were headed. We all had different motivations for participating but shared a common destination.

And so we moved, all of us wearing our green jerseys as participants of the Standard Chartered KL Marathon. Different events and categories, and for different reasons — a cure for diseases, in memory of loved ones, advocating civil liberties, or just simply to beat last year’s personal finishing time.

A myriad of causes but the same finishing line. All 22,500 of us — men, women and children.

Early last Sunday morning was the first time in a long time that many of us actually felt the police were our guardians, keeping us safe and facilitating that fundamental expression of our humanity.

For a while, at least, we didn’t have to imagine it. It really did happen.

  1. #1 by voice2009 on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 - 12:00 pm

    Middle East no retreat even death to overthrow their corrupted government administrator

    What about Malaysia?

    Are Malaysian chicken out fear of arrest?

    Are Malaysia Tak boleh?

    I think few years ago before Middle East spring of anti-corrupted government happen now there, the Middle East looked you up Malaysians the first Bersih….Malaysia Boleh

    Now, are Malaysia Boleh or tak Boleh?

    BERSIH 2 demand fair, transparent, anti-corrupted election

    It is a decision of Malaysia direction

    corruption country

    or Anti-corruption country

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 - 2:51 pm

    Instead of ensuring security n orderliness 4 rakyat 2 exercise their fundamental democratic rights 2 express their wishes of a clean election system, d UmnoB/BN gomen is acting unreasonable n suppressing rakyat by all means
    Wearing yellow T-shirts is now a crime, by what logic n whose authority, we wonder

    Many schools r having their sports days, wonder if students fr YELLOW HOUSE can now wear their yellow T-shirts

    Let’s all wear yellow T-shirts n C what d polis can do

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