They Were All Yellow – My Bersih 3.0 Story (daughter of retired FRU officer)

blog -Welcome to my complicated world
Monday, April 30, 2012

”For you I’ll bleed myself dry” – Yellow by Coldplay
Morning of 428. That was the song that was stuck in my head as I got
ready to attend Bersih 3.0 rally. I put on my yellow t-shirt and sang
”oh yeah, they were all yellow”.

I wasn’t there last year. When I read my friends’ accounts of Bersih
2.0 and watched the video footage, I cried. I had my reasons not to be
there and it was not because I didn’t agree with the cause. So as I
watched my friends and fellow countrymen got treated like pariah dogs
running away from dog catchers, I died a little inside. There was one
voice in particular, from the numerous videos posted, that still
haunts me till today. A young lady crying out to the police, ”Is this
what you stand for?! That you would hurt your own people?” Her voice
was used in one of the Bersih 3.0 ‘trailers’. And the anguish in her
voice echoed many of our sentiments. I on the other hand wanted to
shout back (into the monitor nonetheless) ”That is not true!” Because
if it is, my whole childhood would have been a lie. Let me explain.

My daddy served in the police force since he was 18, since the British
colonial times. I grew up with the police around me. But none closer
than the men and women of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU). The riot
police as people call them. You see, my daddy was heading one of the
FRU units the last few years before his retirement. During Chinese New
Year, FRU families will cook for us and help my family host ‘open
house’. FRU trucks will be parked in front of our house, dropping off
policemen and women of all races. We were probably the only Chinese
family that served rendang chicken and roti jala during this season. I
understood the concept of ‘muhibah’ and of 1Malaysia way before Najib
made it into an enterprise.

At times when my daddy couldn’t pick me up from school, one of these
FRU men will come by and make sure I got home safely. I grew up
trusting that they will protect me. And they would do anything to make
sure no one harmed me.

So understand this. On 428, when tear gassed was fired, and I had to
run away from the FRU – the same people whom I trusted my life with –
it broke my heart.

I’m sure by now you would have read all you could have on what went
down that Saturday. You would have memorized the sequence of events
blow by blow. And I will bear testament to all you have read and
witnessed. Initially the atmosphere was fiesta like. I haven’t felt
such excitement from a crowd since World Cup Finals day in Paris back
in 1998. However, when things changed for the worse as I was running
away from the non stop tear gas ambush from Masjid Jamek to Central
Market, I kept my eyes peeled for anything that would resemble the
country I love. And here is what I witnessed.

People of all age, race and gender, turned to us and asked if we
needed salt or water. We came ill prepared because we actually
believed it wouldn’t turn ugly this year. All we had was a hand towel.
No one pushed, shoved or turned violent. No one looted, robbed or
stole (I think even the common snatch thieves decided to put down
their interest for the day for a bigger cause). We were all trying to
disperse but couldn’t because train services was stopped and tear gas
was coming from all directions. But in the midst of it all, the beef
noodle stall was still open for business and people stopped to eat.
How Malaysian is that? Standing by the sidewalks eating bowls of
noodles while the rest of us trying to find a way out of the ‘war

As we walked towards Petaling Street, we came across DaiMaCai and
Sports Toto shops that were still open. It’s Saturday. So, life goes
on, yellow shirt or not. I saw a few chinese uncles telling each other
to stop from running away, they had to go buy number. Despite the mood
of the situation, I couldn’t help but laugh. I wanted to take a photo
of them, but the tear gas was being blown at our direction so I had to
keep moving.

We were walking towards the famous Air Mata Kuching stall in Petaling
Street. My husband wanted one cup of that magic potion, so we went.
There were tourists milling about the place, I think not really sure
what is happening. As we were approaching the stall, another group of
protesters ran pass us and shouted for us to go because more tear gas
was coming. Immediately I could feel my eyes tearing again. I quickly
covered my nose and mouth, and we ran into some back alley. By now, I
was just fed up.

We came out at the other side of the alley, emerged at the other end
of Petaling Street. “Do you still want the mata kuching or not?” I
asked my husband. “Should we?!” He was hesitant to walk back into the
same place where everyone was running out from. I said yes, took the
towel and covered my face, and walked right back into Petaling Street.
As we went ‘against traffic’, I had only one thing in mind. No, it’s
not that the air mata kuching was that awesome I had to risk getting
arrested for. Is that I refuse to be terrorised in my own country by
my own people. It’s a free country. I will walk to the stall and get
myself a drink, thank you very much. Eyes stinging, throat burning – I
drank the mata kuching.

Ok, trying to head to the Tau Fu Far stall next was a bit of a
challenge. So we walked on towards Central Market, trying to get on
the trains. I was finally able to Facebook, and quickly posted some of
my thoughts and pictures. When we were going up, people told us that
the trains had also been stopped at this station. I was surprised
though, not because the train stopped, but how calm everyone was about
it. I have seen worse reaction on a normal day from people during
unexpected train breakdowns heading back from work.

I got home safe and sound, back to reality. The next thought was, I
needed to face the wrath of my daddy. Sunday when I ‘debriefed’ him
and my family what went on, he explained about certain actions that
was taken. For instance, trains had to stop because high voltage
tracks and moving trains would have caused serious injuries to people
who would jump on tracks trying to flee the scene. People were denied
legal representation, and it was within a Police Act to do so for the
first 24 hours. The debate went on for a bit and my mummy finally
asked the mother of all questions, “So what did you all achieve that

I tried to answer, but under my daddy’s watchful eyes, meaningful
words failed me. So I turned on YouTube and showed my parents the
“Same Day Edit” video that most of my friends were sharing on social
media. Stunned silence came after. Where I could not find my voice,
80,000 other Malaysians help me speak up.

I am your typical Malaysian. A 4th generation Chinese born and raised
in Malaysia. I am a mother of two young energetic children. I am your
middle class average Jane Doe. I am a professional working 9 – 5. I
studied here, married here, worked here and have never lived abroad. I
did not go out on 428 because I have a terrible life. I did not go out
because I am not loyal to my country or her rulers. I did not go out
because I am a dumb wit bought by the opposition to cause trouble. I
went because I love my country. I went because I am Malaysian. And
thank you all who stood next to me that day to help me reaffirm that.

  1. #1 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 8:55 am

    Those fru guys who fired the cannisters. Yeah, those fellas. Listen lady. Those fellas. They are not fru. Not the fru you know. They are umno. And they are profoundly brain-washed and indoctrinated by umno’s btn. So it would be best if you could just see them as people who raise the keris and as people who stomp on cowheads. They serve only the supreme umnoputras. The rest of us are nothing but mere malaysians.

  2. #2 by shukurhasran on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 - 10:23 am

    May be I am racially retarded…are there chinese,indians and what not races in Malaysia? i teach myself chinese are immigrants or tourist from China, indian are tourists/immigrant from India, we teach our children to address people by name, auntie/uncle/kakak/abg/ane/kawan/brother

    …the only visible difference may be skin fairer or darker…how did I become retarded like that? blame Bersih 2.0 and 3.0, my fellow Malaysian offering help without prejudice, so crowded we rub each other skin…we demand a fair election for both BN and PR…we don’t want any legal/illegal non Malaysian nationality to be on our sacred electoral roll…that’s not too much to ask right?

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