Many people failed Malaysia on Saturday

— A Malaysian
The Malaysian Insider
May 01, 2012

MAY 1 — Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail, the Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur, failed us when he forgot that he was a public servant and instead, became a servant of the ruling party of the day.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein failed us when, even after the experience of Bersih 2.0, he oversaw, as Home Minister, the unnecessary violence wreaked on an almost wholly peaceful gathering of citizens who merely were out to state their concerns over what they see as a flawed electoral process. And to rub salt into the wound, in the aftermath, Hishammuddin sought to justify the unwarranted violence.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed us when as Prime Minister of all Malaysians — regardless whether they support him or not — he uttered not a squeak to ensure his flock (and as citizens, we are his flock) were facilitated in gathering peacefully to voice their concerns.

The mainstream newspapers — The Star, the New Straits Times, Berita
Harian and, but of course, Utusan Malaysia — failed us yet again when they sought to justify the wrongs and entrenched their position as propagandists rather than the chroniclers of truth that they are supposed to be.

And while the police and the ruling party may want us to believe that the organisers of Bersih 3.0 also failed us, I disagree because everything that Fuad and the authorities did to prevent their citizens from gathering at Dataran Merdeka, I believe, was a formula to encourage a few hotheads to breach the barriers and they got what they wished for — an excuse to blame the organisers.

Some, like the New Straits Times, say the organisers should have taken the option of gathering at Stadium Merdeka as offered by the authorities and that would have prevented any incident. Really? Why not argue that if Fuad had allowed Dataran Merdeka as a venue, there would not have been any incidence either? But Fuad acted as if Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) — an oxymoron after Saturday’s events — is his personal turf. Why so adamant Fuad? Independence is not only yours to savour; it is ours as well.

I have never voted for the opposition parties in my life. Now, months towards retirement age, I will ashamedly say that every election that I have been eligible to vote, I blindly marked X next to the “dacing” symbol. Yes, I had my concerns about issues. But I always felt that the Barisan Nasional was the better alternative, despite its shortcomings, despite its corruption and abuse of power, despite its authoritarian ways.

But in recent years, many a time I have looked up and asked the Almighty, is this what we deserve — a choice between bad and slightly worse? When Bersih 2.0 took to the streets in July last year, I stayed away, monitoring their progress on the news portals. I believed in their cause but I was one of the many who asked what use it would be to gather like that. Nothing will change.

But, like the many who were appalled at the way our ordinary fellow citizens were herded up like cattle and bundled into Black Marias to Pulapol and who were appalled at the way the authorities and the mainstream media tried to lie to us in subsequent days that there were only 6,000 “violent” protesters, and that they arrested a quarter of them, I decided then that I would be at Bersih 3.0. I believed then that whether things changed or not, I would be there to tell this Government, this ruling party that I have supported for more than 30 years, that I, too, want them to change things.

There have been so many accounts in cyber world of “My Bersih 3.0” experience — some heart wrenching, some angry, some bitter and some, in the spirit of all the great religions of this world — Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism — urging forgiveness and asking us to move forward.

But this is what I saw.

I saw friends who had never shown an interest in politics coming with their wives and children to say they wanted free and fair elections, because rightly or wrongly, they believe that the electoral system is flawed. They were not there to be violent.

I saw in the narrow alleys cutting through to Lebuh Ampang, a group of young and old Muslims, praying as a Jemaah in their distinctive yellow T-shirts. They were not there to be violent.

I saw many mothers and their teenaged daughters; fathers holding up small children. They were not there to be violent.

I saw the normally reticent Chinese, many young people among them, taking to the streets — either in green “Stop Lynas” or yellow Bersih tees. I saw this refined old Malay gentleman, well dressed and in his 60s, holding on firmly to an equally distinguished looking Chinese gentleman of similar age, marching to show that they were friends united in a cause. I saw this elderly Chinese lady, caught by a skull-capped, bearded PAS Unit Amal, as she almost stumbled and fell while taking photographs. I heard him say: “Aunty, jaga-jaga sikit. Jangan jatuh…”

I saw the lawyer-type Indian gentlemen and ladies marching proudly, side by side their spouses and children, laughing and joking in between chanting “Hidup Bersih.” I saw them passing water bottles to those who did not have any; I saw them aiding the old; I saw them carrying the young; I saw — after such a long, long time, Malaysians who represent the spectrum of the Malaysia that should be, united in purpose.

None of them were there to be violent.

Many a time I choked up — like when they burst into the national anthem and despite the heat and the rush of bodies, trying to stand at attention. Like when they played around with the huge yellow balloon, pushing it from one to another, like a carnival. Like when I saw the children and fathers of different races looking out for each other, offering a tissue or a sweet, holding up umbrellas for the old. Like when this teenaged Chinese boy asked me: “Uncle, why you not wearing yellow?” Like when the old Kelantanese man — whom I knew not from Adam — spoke to me in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman: “Dah make? Make dulu. Lama nak tunggu.” (Have you eaten? Better eat. It’s a long wait.)

Who, I ask myself, among them was there to be violent? To whom should we pose this question?

Tell us Tan Sri Fuad. Tell us Datuk Seri Hishammuddin. Please tell us Datuk Seri Najib and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Please tell us Datuk Seri Rais Yatim because you, who once led unruly demonstrations when you were in Semangat 46, had so many mean things to say about us. Tell us Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, you who ruled us for 23 years and brooked no dissent — who among this crowd of elderly to very young, representing the 1 Malaysia you all pay lip service to, who were the violent ones out to overthrow the Government?

Perhaps there were some amongst the tens of thousands who were carried away and broke the barricades. Perhaps it’s a sign of the level of trust and confidence that people have in their Government that some believe agent provocateurs planted among the crowd started the trouble. But pray tell Datuk Seri Hishammuddin and Tan Sri Ismail Omar — what justification was there to punch, kick, tear gas and baton charge so many of us who were on our way back and were so far from the scene of the incident? Our pain and our blood are on your hands.

Barisan Nasional has not learnt from the past. They do not listen. They only want us to listen. As far as I am concerned, July 9, 2011, and April 28, 2012, made up my mind and that of my family and friends.

In a perverse way, the Barisan Nasional has achieved what it could not through its sloganeering — a growing number of Malaysians united in purpose.

That spirit, Datuk Seri Najib, you cannot break, no matter how many baton charges, how many beatings, how many tear gas canisters and how much chemical-laced water you throw at us. You know why? Because you failed us.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 8:28 am

    Actually the real only failure that matter is Najib’s. He is personally leading the over-drive spin to claw back the losses from Bersih. He is like that kid who took it too easy all-year and then tries to mug 24hours before the exam and the outcome is predictable.

    Najib’s overall political strategy is falling apart – that is what Bersih did. You don’t need to count the votes to figure that one out. After 3 years, so much spend and effort in one of the strongest economic period in our region’s history and he can’t conclusively deliver better than a failing ‘cheat and buy’ election. UMNO’s low-standard is not that low.

    Its clear Najib will hold GE without reform in June. However, the consequences is unpredictable. Watch what happens during the GE and Najib will justify ‘a win is a win’ even before they finish counting the ballot.

    Otherwise, Najib is gone even before the GE. Again, the only failure that matter is Najib’s

  2. #2 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 9:07 am

    Oh I am no longer saddened or troubled by those who continually fail the king, the country and her people. I look only to the future. And now much more then ever before, I could see hope. Real hope. Umno will collapse. It wont be long before umno kicks its final dying and desperate kick, my friends.

    To the King,
    To Malaysia, and
    To all those who made Bersih possible,

    I dedicate this song:

  3. #3 by Winston on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 12:11 pm

    Barisan Nasional has not learnt from the past. They do not listen. – end of quote

    A Malaysian, it’s not about learning or anything else.
    It’s the gravy train and nothing but the GRAVY TRAIN!!!!
    That’s all they are interested in.
    Everything else can go to hell as far as they are concerned!!

  4. #4 by cseng on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 3:11 pm

    ‘evil triumph because good men did nothing’. For good men to do something, it takes conscience and courage. Last Saturday, we see conscience, we witness courage of good men, walking the street; we celebrate and cherish this, until the evil came….

    Ambiga show us the power of courage. We have enough good men (we have many of them) in the media, in the police force, in the DBKL, even in EC, those good men need to own back the courage, overcome the fear, let us get back the free and fair election, media, police and mederka square of our heart… this would be a beautiful world.

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