Was it worth it?

— Tan Zhong Yan
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 29, 2012

APRIL 29 — I was there together with my dad and his friends. We entered Kuala Lumpur the night before the historical day and stayed in a hotel somewhere in Pudu as we were afraid we might not be able to get in into Kuala Lumpur on the day itself.

The next morning, April 28, we went to have breakfast in one of the coffee shops nearby. From there, everything started. It looked like most of the people having breakfast in that coffee shop were going for the sit-in demonstration, just like us.

We started to greet one another, chatting and taking photos like we knew each other. After that, from Pudu, we headed for Jalan Sultan and then towards Dataran Merdeka. The crowd got bigger and bigger as we walked. Slogans were chanted, but not in a tense manner, as slogans were always followed by laughter.

Many of my friends asked why I wanted to go and “waste” my time there, as I’ll be having my exams in less than two weeks’ time, and the fact that the government might not even care and listen to us. There is also a great risk that I might be arrested or fired upon with tear gas and water cannons.

I just would like to say that it’s not whether the government listens to us or not, but what we as Malaysians have done for our country. All of us, or at least most of us, feel that there are problems with our electoral system.

The term “phantom voters” is not something that is unfamiliar to us anymore. We criticise the government here and there every day, from Facebook to coffee shops, but we never take any action to improve it.

Of course, I agree that taking the matter to the streets may not be a good thing, but that is the only way left to us and it is the clearest way to convey our message to the government that we are taking it seriously and that we want clean, free and fair elections!

For me, it’s totally not a waste of time if, by doing so, reforms can be achieved. Even if they are not, it is still worth it as I think we had successfully conveyed our message to the government. I had actually not wasted or lost anything, but I eventually gained a lot from that.

I am a first year law student and Public Law is one of my subjects. In Public Law, I study about constitutional law, the rule of law, separation of powers, electoral system, civil liberties, etc. And as I said, my exams are in less than two weeks’ time.

By participating in Bersih 3.0, I actually learned a lot and it is sort of a quick revision for me, revising the whole subject of Public Law in just a day or perhaps just a few hours, which I have studied for a year. I even jokingly told my friends that I’m there applying what I have studied, as practical application is very important for us as law students.

One thing that I have realised from the demonstration is that theory is always different from practice. It’s quite disappointing as what is stated in those thick textbooks of mine seem to be not applicable in real life or maybe in Malaysia. But, of course, looking from the bright sight, it is good that I realised all this now.

Another thing I gained is that I saw and felt the love and unity among Malaysians. Race, religion, gender and age are not at all barriers for us. The moment where everyone sang the national anthem “Negaraku” together, my tears nearly flowed.

I never felt this before, although I have sung “Negaraku” for so many years, especially when I was in school.

It is, of course, regrettable that violence occurred during the demonstration. We should condemn the protestors and police who acted violently in the peaceful event.

We should stop all the violence and together make this beloved country into a civilised, democratic country.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 12:16 am

    Mr. Tan and dad’s participation in Bersih 3.0 was well worth it. Their protest makes the government think we rakyat are not easily bullied and will not accommodate unfair electoral practices.

  2. #2 by B33Rhipp0 on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 3:03 am

    Tan u may have misunderstood your friend. U really did waste your time there. I mentioned about two weeks ago that if bersih think they can mobilize500k ppl then why not ask those ppl instead to pick up a list of voters check if they r real or fake. I’m rather sure that u will have enough volunteers who r willing to part with their own petrol money n effort n time to do this. But someone dissed me off saying that the was nt an easytask. So its easy to mobilize 250k ppl (reported by bersih) but not say, 5k ppl to check through the electoral list? Bersih had someone reporting all the 42k ppl being dubious so u think if they had gotten 5k ppl to work on the list they can’t find any more? At least then they will have more concrete proof to bark around to the public. Rather than just blowing all the hot air. We should have been looking fo solutions instead of looking for ppl to blame…..so I will say this again.. u did waste your time there…..for not being constructive but being a nuisance. Street protestes never do get the job done… what u see in the Arab spring is many of dead people to achieve the change in got….. I’m sure u don’t want this…. so again make constructive actions….not foolish defiance.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 8:07 am

    ///as I’ll be having my exams in less than two weeks’ time, and the fact that the government might not even care and listen to us. There is also a great risk that I might be arrested or fired upon with tear gas and water cannons. ///

    So your a student. Let’s be clear about something here. Of course the umno gobermen will not care and will not listen. It’s outright wrong of you to say that they “might” not care or listen. Actually not caring or listening is nothing to us. That is to be expected of umno. It is an established fact. Everyone knows that. Umno is much too arrogant and far too greedy and power crazy to bother. What is worse perhaps is jib’s two-faced antics – seemingly wanting to show people he cares and actually not bothering at all and in fact taking advantage of his seemingly caring attitude to chip away whatever precious little that you have. Now that is another category of nonsense. A much much lower category.

    So you get all that boy? Umno is never to be trusted or believed for a thousand yrs!

  4. #4 by Winston on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 2:13 pm

    Race, religion, gender and age are not at all barriers for us. – End of quote

    You’re right!
    At least in the early years of our Independence, these weren’t issues.
    It was only later, when the Federal Government realised that by playing up the sentiments of race and religion, it could hold sway over the majority race and thus can do what they want.
    And what they want is only for themselves, the ruling elite.
    Now, the whole country is awaking to what is going on and the gravy train risks being derailed.
    Thus this contest between those ruling the the ruled.
    Now, for Malaysians, the light can already be viewed at the end of the tunnel.
    And the end is nigh for the ruling elite.

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