Why Daddy chose to stand with the crowd

Da Huang Daddy | Jul 20, 11


My dear daughter, Daddy told you this morning that I was travelling to work; in fact, I was travelling to Kuala Lumpur to participate with the so-called “bad” people, as the TV had labelled them.

Early in the morning, after giving you a kiss while you were sleeping, Mummy took Daddy to the airport. Why didn’t I drive? Because I heard that the police uncles had surrounded Kuala Lumpur, and as such, I might not be able to arrive there by driving.

Mummy: “What if you are caught?”

Daddy: “That is why you must stay – to bail me out.”

Daddy has never undertaken any big adventure, so when the plane landed and I took the train to KL Sentral, my heart was beating as fast as what you must have felt when I caught you eating stolen candy.

After getting off the train, Daddy’s friends arrived shortly after. We discussed why we could not exit at our desired stop, but had to get off two stations away. Daddy stayed on board the train for two more stations, not because Daddy wanted to exercise to lose weight (as you know, Daddy has a big belly!), but because the police uncles stopped us from getting off at our desired station!

Daddy met about 10 Malays, and they too were going to the same place as Daddy. It was fortunate that Daddy met them, because Daddy could not recognise the busy, bustling Kuala Lumpur city! Where were all the people and cars? All gone! All blocked by the police uncles.

Suddenly, Daddy heard noises upon our arrival at our destination. Ahead was the famous Masjid Jamek, where we saw a row of vicious FRU men and trucks. You may ask, aren’t the police supposed to protect the people? Baby, this is exactly one of the reasons why Daddy was attending this gathering.

Daddy saw a lot of people running up the hill next to Menara Maybank and followed them. From atop the hill, my God, there must have been around 10,000 people. Before I could overcome my shock, the spicy scent of tear gas engulfed my senses.

It was just like last month, during our BBQ, when you were choked by the smoke. Daddy remembered the small towels packed by Mummy. I quickly wet them with water and covered my nose to make it feel better.

At this juncture, the police uncles rushed towards us. Everyone was anxious and panicked, shouting “Lari! Lari!”. Hundreds of people hurried through a door that could only accommodate one person at a time. Daddy looked back. The police uncles were climbing over the fence to come at us!

Perhaps you may ask, ‘What bad thing has my Daddy done that the police would want to arrest him?’

My daughter, Daddy was with many, many other brothers and sisters, just getting together here. Then the police rushed over, arresting and hitting everyone in sight!

Daddy ran into one of the smaller lanes off Jalan Pudu, as behind me, people were shouting, “Jangan lari! Tangkap!” Finally, I stopped running and some people signalled to me to go quickly to the front. Did I know this person? No, but strangely, we all believed in him and went with him in the same direction.

This time, the choking, spicy scent engulfed us again, one tear gas shot after another, with water cannons spraying people who refused to disband. Daddy’s nose was running and my tears were flowing. I was also having difficulty breathing.

Then I saw a group of people squatting near a water faucet, washing their faces. They looked at Daddy with wry smiles, and gave me some salt. I also washed myself with the tap water, and drank from it. Daddy never knew that tap water could be so delicious! We looked at one another, laughed together, and instantly the tension disappeared!

Helping one another

It then started to rain heavily, and Daddy climbed up a small hill and went into Tung Shin Hospital. Outside the hospital doors, there were many people, men and women, who had come there to avoid the rain and nasty tear gas.

Daddy stood in front of three fully-masked Malay sisters. One seemed to have inhaled too much tear gas, and she was reeling, as though she was going to fall. Her friends kept asking where they could buy drinking water.

At this juncture, a Chinese uncle took a bottle of water from his backpack and handed it to them. I do not think that they knew each other. My daughter, let me tell you, helping one another is not something seen only in textbooks.

The noise was getting louder and louder, and there were calls to all of us who were avoiding the rain to join the march. We were excited and all ready to join the march, when suddenly, there was a rapid burst of desperate people running into the hospital, and so we ran towards the parking lot.

Daddy was following them as well, and then we heard someone yell, “Kejamlah! Ini hospital!” The crowd kept moving back, some tried to climb up the hill, some climbed the wall, and some climbed up the back door of the hospital gate, which was about six-and-a-half-feet high.

Regardless of whether we were Chinese, Malay or Indian, we helped one another. The stronger ones climbed the iron gates and went over while the elderly and infirm climbed over the gate using construction ladders, which seemed to suddenly appeared. Either way, there was someone on the other side of the iron gates to help them down.

No one rushed; there was only humility and patience. Witnessing all this, Daddy felt emotional as I thought about our country and our people.

Meaning of Malaysia

After that, there were about 200-300 people walking along Jalan Alor; no one complained along the way. Although we did not know one another, we all had one goal – Bersih! Bersih!

Suddenly, there were cheers in front, followed by a round of applause. Daddy had returned to the march! Everyone was excited and it was like seeing long-lost family members again. We all danced and shouted “Bersih! Bersih! Hidup Bersih!”

The stretch of people was so long that one could not see where the crowd began, nor where it ended. Everyone was so excited and occupied the empty roads.

Occasionally, vehicles passed by and the drivers would toot their horns, open their windows, stick out their hands and raise their thumbs. Whenever we saw this, we were excited again. There were sounds of whistles and applause. My daughter, this was not the demonstration I had initially envisaged – it was more like a carnival!

The long march gradually made it to KLCC, and we occupied the the whole intersection in front of KLCC. Daddy could not estimate how many people were there, at least 10, 20, perhaps 30 thousand people?

We got together, sat down and rested. As we were taking a break, someone took the lead and started singing the national anthem!

‘Negaraku, tanah tumpah…’

Daddy has sung the national anthem perhaps close to a thousand times since my childhood. But this time, why did the Negara-ku sound so sweet? It was not accompanied by any music, there were different pitches and tones, and even wrong tones with weird accents.

But when I looked to my left, I saw a Malay Pakcik and on my right, an Indian auntie with her daughter. I felt so touched and emotional that tears streamed down my face.

My dear daughter, at this moment, I really wished that you and Mummy were beside me. Right next to me to share this moment of pride and belonging to this country with me! All of a sudden, Daddy understood why so many Pakciks and Makciks brought their whole families, because this moment was something you would never learn from textbooks, nor will you feel it after scoring 10As for an exam.

Daddy has lived in this country for 34 years, and there has not been a moment like that during 709, where I felt the meaning of “Malaysia”.

Regardless of who we were, we helped one another (to escape the tear gas, to avoid the water cannons, to climb the hospital walls), shared (even if it was just a handful of salt), smiled at one another (after the water cannon, while squatting next to a water faucet washing our faces and drinking tap water), and comforted one another (with tears on his face and even suffering breathing difficulty, a Pakcik patted us and said, “Relax, relax, rehat kejap, tak ada hal punya”).

Daddy never knew who they were, never asked their names, but I knew that this was our country – the people of Malaysia.

Perhaps many years later, you can read and understand this letter, written by Daddy who has experienced all of this. It may have already been documented in your history book.

Remember, at this historical moment, Daddy chose to stand with this yellow crowd, not for any other reason, but just to let you have a better country!

I will always love you,
Da Huang Daddy

The writer is a blogger as well and his original, in Chinese, can be found at http://dahuangng.wordpress.com

This series relates eyewitness accounts of the Bersih 2.0 July 9 rally in Kuala Lumpur for clean and fair elections. If you were there and have an interesting story to share, email us at [email protected] by Friday, July 22.

  1. #1 by for my country1 on Thursday, 21 July 2011 - 10:11 am

    Tears still roll down my cheeks even after having read so many stories from all my true malaysian brothers and sisters who had marched for Bersih 709.
    I just cannot apprehend why we malaysian brothers and sisters must go through such events in difficulty…why our government is so hard on its rakyat. Why the men in blue are so adamant and hard on the rakyat.
    We are indeed living in a wonderful country call Malaysia. By right we should be showing the world how we Malaysians live and work as one. How we mingle and laugh together, how we love each other’s friendship and appreciate each other’s joy and happiness. All malaysians must be treated equal and fair. There should not be any talk of race anymore after over 50 years of independence for goodness sake. The government of the day by right should be incalculating goodness to all rakyat. Teach the rakyat how to love their family and friends. Teach the rakyat how to love other rakyat. Teach the rakyat how to love the country without any divisive policies. Teach the rakyat to be clean and fair to all. Let the world know that Malaysia is indeed a county of LOVE, of FAIRNESS and forward looking with its CLEAN management. Can we???? Are we game enough???

  2. #2 by k1980 on Thursday, 21 July 2011 - 11:29 am

    //‘What bad thing has my Daddy done that the police uncles would want to arrest him?’//

    Better ask ‘What bad thing has TBH done that the macc uncles would want to throw him out of the window?’

    By the way, after throwing him out the window, those macc uncles went to watch porno on their govt-supplied computers

  3. #3 by Nosro on Thursday, 21 July 2011 - 1:56 pm

    I was not there physically to support rally but I will make sure my vote will lead to a better country for all malaysian kids!

  4. #4 by tunglang on Thursday, 21 July 2011 - 2:15 pm

    This is one genuine heart-felt experience every Rakyat should have gone thro’ on that fateful day of Bersih 709. I still cry after reading this article, not because I am wimpy, but because I myself had not experienced such genuine, caring, united Malaysian touch in the streets of KL among all races irrespective of class, status or creed.
    God Himself would have cried too on that day, witnessing His Caring and Loving spirit thriving in the hearts of His beloved creations called Bersih Malaysians. It rained that day.

  5. #5 by dagen on Thursday, 21 July 2011 - 6:05 pm

    Police uncles, police uncles, police uncles.

    What idiot!

    Police bustards. Bustards. Bustards. That is what they all are. And that is exactly how I described them to my young kids. In fact I told my kids never to trust the police. I know there are good ones but hey they dont seem to do anything positive to counter the bad ones. And that makes them bad too!

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