I fear for my country

— Michelle Chan
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 30, 2012

APRIL 30 — I was having tea yesterday with a few others who were at the first Bersih press conference post-Bersih 3.0. Everyone was sharing personal accounts of their day. Amongst us were those who were severely assaulted and detained up till the dawn of the following day.

Upon seeing Fazwan’s swollen left eye and bruised right face, I recalled the feeling of crying out in pain and force after being hit by the tear gas unexpectedly. Later, I saw Nunu’s injured lower spine and felt that same helplessness I was stirred into when sitting on the curb of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, recovering from the tear gas. Both Fazwan and Nunu were attacked by groups of policemen, no less than half a dozen. My heart sunk knowing that authorities attacked farther after demonstrators were dispersing already.

Later, I returned to Masjid Jamek for a Sunday free-food distribution for the homeless and destitute. Walking these streets again felt like meeting an old friend. These walls have endured so much yesterday, I thought.

I was told that a local homeless person was hospitalised after a session of heavy assault by a group of eight policemen. He wore a T-shirt which he picked up in a back alley, which just happened to be a Bersih T-shirt, which people changed out of after the policemen went ape at arresting everyone and anyone in yellow.

“They would only do this because they know it won’t make it to the newspapers,” said a foreigner who helped at the distribution. It is true.

More stories were shared, from the eyes and ears from within the Dataran Merdeka.

Reading stories from the Internet about Bersih is different from listening to stories on the streets. If you are reading this, you are literate, you possess a high-technology gadget and you have access to the Internet. There are still many people from the streets who, like many of us, were scared shitless and terrified by the actions of the authorities on Saturday. In fact, they see the abuse of power on more casual basis. However, they may not be privileged enough to be able to share their experiences.

One particular elderly homeless I met told me her story through hand signals. She can only speak very basic Cantonese such as “I went” and “Pain”. The rest of her stories was painted by her facial lines. She cannot string a proper sentence in her mother tongue, what more to understand why she is not entitled to her rights and who represents her in the Parliament. All she knows is that life goes on, and everyday is a new battle.

I go on social networking and news sites, and see the overflow of emotions — good and bad — about the Bersih 3.0 protest. Some say that they are changed after the protest, and I hope everyone will continue to be more aware of national affairs because Malaysia is a democratic country and everybody needs to participate for it to be democratic.

We need change, and I believe I am witnessing progress.

Why did a quarter million Malaysians spend their Saturday on the roads when we are already sick and tired of traffic jams — are we not? Everyone went with a different level of understanding in regards to the demonstration.

I went for many reasons, but one that champions them all would be my parents. My parents do not agree with my participation in such “sensitive issues”, just like all parents do. “You will get hurt,” they say. And I did. But I know from their tone that they are secretly proud of me.

A friend texted me “Fearless!” after finding out that I was at Dataran Merdeka at noon. No, I was fearful. I fear for my country being unsafe for my loved ones to stay in; I fear that my parents will not be able to wait for proper healthcare when needed, I fear that my younger sister will become propagated rather than educated in school, I fear my generation of youth now will “grow up” to be mid-life boys and girls, I fear if Malaysian working culture has no ethics and I will be exploited, I fear that our representatives in Parliament prioritise foreign investments more than it does us, and I fear that people will “be okay” about benefiting from another’s loss.

The demonstration on Saturday turned sour, but the eight Bersih demands for clean and fair election are not refusable. We need change in the system for the betterment of our socio-economic well-being as a nation. Before I started to walk from KLCC towards Dataran Merdeka, a foreigner asked me: “What is the relevance of fancy tourist attractions (he referred to the Petronas Twin Towers) if people are subject to the travesty of justice?”

Good question. — loyarburok.com

  1. #1 by monsterball on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 2:20 pm

    Good for you.
    Each BERSIH rally….no good for Najib.
    Amongst the three..BERSIH 3 was the best.
    Can’t help wanting and waiting for BERSIH 4!!!
    Ambiga is for Clean election and Government.
    Anwar is for breaking the barriers.
    Both are traveling the same road with different purposes.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 2:40 pm

    It is unthinkable how police could be brutal to a handful of innocent news reporters.

  3. #3 by cseng on Monday, 30 April 2012 - 5:35 pm

    It is this fear that we share, many m’sian walks toward merdeka square last saturday, to overcome it.

  4. #4 by GodIsWatching on Tuesday, 1 May 2012 - 2:57 am

    Saturday saw many consequences to which the organisers would have (or at least should have) thoroughly considered and assessed as latent risks to proceeding with the rally towards Dataran Merdeka. I say ‘towards’ not ‘into’ for Ambiga and numerous field commanders made it clear to us in the crowd that we were not to breach the court order at all costs.

    What actually transpired and who instigated the breach of barricades is not something I wish to talk about since speculations are never ending for now.

    I came out of Bersih 3 feeling triumphant in that Inwas privileged to walk and sit and run with genuine Malaysians who cared enough for the future of this country to brave the challenges.

    Nevertheless the next morning was a different story for me as I awoke to so many comments by fence-sitters and pro-UMNO/BN friends and acquaintances on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and Whats App ridiculing and accusing Bersih 3 as ‘instigators of hatred to overthrow the government’, blaming us for dirtying the city, being disobedient to the law hence not worthy of the respect of other Malaysians etc.

    All these came on a Sunday morning when everyone of them would have read their Utusan, Berita Harian, Star, NST and watched their favourite TV1,2,3 Bernama etc. To think that educated friends such as these would allow their minds to be weakened by mainstream media without taking any initiative to venture outside of mainstream media is very sad indeed.

    Worst still, then came a slew of video footages capturing police abusive and malicious treatment of civilians long after Bersih 3.0 had ended. I could not believe my eyes when I read comments from people whom I actually consider as friends even having the stomach to state ‘padan muka budak Bersih’ and to express their disgruntled secret wish that the police should have beaten the Bersih participants until crippled just to teach them a lesson.

    These same people possess the same mentality to rebuke Bersih 3.0 by claiming that taking tonthe streets is pointless so if you want change just exercise your right to vote in the ballot box.

    How do we come against such sheer weakened and deformed manner of thinking amongst those Malaysians who refuse to understand the ramifications of having to lose their voice systematically as this government continues to deceive them?

    Only God can show mercy on Malaysia and deal with the errant and arrogant and ruthless leaders at the helm of all fraud and malice in their administration.

You must be logged in to post a comment.