Bersih 4 Merdeka

KJ John
Aug 25th, 2015

I think it was about 10 years ago that I decided to stop flying the Merdeka Flag on Aug 31; and only flew it on Malaysia day instead, i.e. Sept 16. My reasons were simple. I realised that the Aug 31 Merdeka day had particular meaning only to the Malayans; but the Malaysia Day had a special meaning for all Malaysians.

Therefore, surely and practically, I moved my Merdeka Day celebrations and all it has meant for me, to the Malaysia Day; the day Malaysia was formed by the remaining three entities, after Singapore left.

Therefore, this year when the Bersih organising committee fixed Aug 29 and 30 for the Bersih 4 to walk the talk; it was easy for me to see and understand all the reasons for doing the same. The goal of ‘membersihkan negara kita’ is an on-going agenda towards achieving clean and fair elections so that we can form a government of our choice and based on our election and selection.

Nobody else can and should dictate that, even with the gerrymandering tolerated and moderated by the Election Commission.

Consequently also, when one former minister asked the Bersih 4 organising committee to march with Malaysian flags to celebrate Malaysia’s Merdeka; it was an easy and natural thing for all true-blue Malaysians. Therefore, this year with Bersih 4, we will also carry little Malaysian flags to celebrate this nation that we uphold and love but nevertheless also want to see things cleaned up.

Saya anak Bangsa Malaysia

All Malaysians born after Sept 16, 1963 are Malaysians; pure, clean first class Malaysians and no one else can deny that, not even the Home Affairs Ministry. It is guaranteed by the federal constitution and our Council of Rulers; all that is part and parcel of the Malaysia Agreement.

So, when a voluntary group of Malaysians began a group called SABM or Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia; of course I joined them and agreed with their premise. We are all Bangsa Malaysians and children of Bangsa Malaysians and no one else can deny that.

Merdeka also means that. It means that the second generation of Malaysians; born after Sept 16, 1963, must claim this nation and its complete systems and institutions of governance and make it their own. One cannot simply allow the goons and crooks of the past leadership models to cheat, steal, and destroy this nation which is also our heritage.

Therefore, I urge all Malaysians who love this country to march for Merdeka this year and join the Bersih 4 citizens to exert their influence and make your presence felt. There are all the signs that it is an awakening of sorts by all Malaysians saying enough are enough; we want to take back the Negara Ku and help define its future.

If the voluntary funds and donations are any consideration; we are going to have a great and grand march this time around and it will be peaceful because we wear yellow; our royal colour, and we carry the Jalur Gemilang. How can anything possibly go wrong?

Will Christians march this time?

While we have marched from the very first time, the majority of Christians may have not marched the first three times. In my calculation there are about 3 million Christians in Malaysia and the majority are in the Borneo states. These are the bumiputra Christians, and they are the ones badly affected by the so-called ban of the ‘Allah’ word in their Bibles.

This time, for the first time, the Bersih march will also concurrently be held in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Therefore and more significantly, this march, which is not on Merdeka Day, can also become a Merdeka March for all Malaysians. It is time that our brothers and sisters from the East of the Malaysian nation begin to feel and create full meaning for their merdeka; not just from the colonials, but also from the neo-colonials.

The Malayan Catholic Churches along the Bersih 4 route in Kuala Lumpur have agreed and invited all peaceful protesters to seek refuge within their locations; if that is ever needed. Now, that is a statement of intent.

The nature of a peaceful assembly

Malaysians marching peacefully on pre-designated routes to ask for a clean and trustworthy government must surely be one of the hallmarks of any good democracy. Merdeka cannot mean much if citizens, who chose governments, cannot march and make their feelings and views about poor governance known.

Moreover, the Peaceful Assembly Act justifies and allows such marches as part and parcel of any peaceful assembly. Given that the planning and intentions have been made to Special Branch more than a month ago, and as the Suhakam chief commissioner, Hasmy Agam, has reminded the police there is really no reason for the organisers to apply for permission to march in a peaceful assembly.

The so-called application is only a simple means of communication of intent. To me, the greatest joke of the century must be that more than one million marchers know all details of the march and are getting prepared for the march, but sometimes it appears that it is only the Malaysian police who are really not prepared to protect and ensure that the march remains peaceful especially in the light of the fact that some trouble-makers have made their intentions known.

Dear police officers, you are sworn to preserve and protect public order. Please understand that in a democracy, and not in a police state, sometimes, this preservation of public order includes moderating and ensuring that one million people, who are mainly citizens, can march peacefully to communicate a demand to the government of the day because they are hard of hearing.

Sometimes, it appears to me, that it is the police themselves who are hard of hearing. Now that the former Special Branch deputy chief has specifically said so; is there any more real doubt?

So, dear public servants of the people, please remember that you are sworn to act as police of the state (and this too is done in the name of the Agong). You are never the police of Umno; never were and never will be, as it is always ordinary and honest citizens who want a clean and fair elections but who do make up for the majority of those who Bersih Four Merdeka; pun intended.

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at [email protected] with any feedback or views.

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