Bersih 4 – Numbers will be the deciding factor

A section of the massive crowd at Bersih 3.0 - Photograph: Aliran

P Ramakrishan recalls a question a friend once posed: When the authorities draw a line and declare that you can’t cross it, what could happen when a million people cross the line?

Determination is the key to all human success. And persistent endeavour contributes to that achievement.

Looking back we can be proud that that persistence has paid off. Bersih 1 attracted 30,000 Malaysians; Bersih 2 brought out 50,000 Malaysians; Bersih 3 motivated 250,000 Malaysians to march for justice.

It can be seen that the groundswell has been building up momentum. More Malaysians are feeling the injustice that the country is forced to suffer.

The authorities are aware that Bersih 4 will bring out a massive number of Malaysians to demand justice. And this number will have such a crushing effect on the authorities that it will be simply impossible to ignore the human wave that would be on the march.

This outcome will seriously bring into question the legitimacy of the Barisan Nasional and its leader. It will send out a clear signal that the people no longer support the government.

This is why the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had to block websites that provide information on this weekend’s Bersih rally. This is the very reason why the Bersih website had been banned. This is why police threats are issued to discourage attendance. This is why road barricades are erected to interfere with the easy movement of the people.

Malaysians should not be put off by all these antics meant as obstacles to what promises to be a gathering that will not only equal the Bersih 3 attendance of 250,000 but might hopefully even surpass this number.

For Bersih 4’s objective to succeed, we need numbers. Nobody can dismiss a gathering of immense size. That message cannot be ignored.

For those who feel apprehensive, let me relate a conversation that I had some years back. The late very much respected and admired Easwaran, who was then the general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Elementary Teachers Federation, general secretary of the All-India Primary Teachers Federation, general secretary of the SARC Teachers Federation and vice president of E. I. asked how people reacted to unjust situations.

When told that there was much fear among the people that it was difficult to marshal them to stand up for a cause, he mentioned a simple truth that startled me. He asked, when the authorities draw a line and declare that you can’t cross it, what could happen when a million people cross the line? I had no answer to that.

There is a relevant lesson in what James Allen said, “For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?”

For any success we have to be individually responsible.

For that success to be realised, we have to come together for a common purpose which has been clearly spelt out by Bersih 4. When we stand up for a common cause tomorrow, we will not only be seeking a remedy for our present situation but we will be paving a future for the next generation.

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P Ramakrishnan
P Ramakrishan, the long-serving former president of Aliran who served three and a half decades on our executive committee, has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977. Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.

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