Candles & T-shirts vs Batons & Guns

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The lop-sided nature of the face off is reflected in Ms Batek’s poem, which contrasts the baton-toting police with the candle-bearing protesters.

A lone candle burns brightly in the night as police close in on anti-ISA protesters outside the Jelutong Police Station
A lone candle burns brightly in the night as police close in on anti-ISA protesters outside the Jelutong Police Station

we have a right to assemble, you say it is illegal
we hold our candles peacefully…..
you say disperse at once

we stand against a draconian law, your stand supports a fascist state
we hold our candles peacefully……
you sound the sirens

we hold democracy close to our hearts, you refuse to acknowledge democratic rights
we hold our candles peacefully……
you bring in trucks and block the roads

we are calm despite ‘provocateurs’, you let them go but censure us
we hold our candles peacefully…….
you arrest our friends and drag them away

we sing our anti-ISA songs, your cameras zoom in close to our faces
we hold our candles peacefully…..
you shout at us and threaten worse

we chant Man-suh-kan I-S-A, you snatch our banners and destroy our placards
we hold our candles peacefully…..
you crowd around us and blow them out

I held my candle peacefully……..
you stepped out in front of me
your gun casually slung,
your finger on the trigger…..
just what were you thinking?

we know you were acting on instructions
instructions you so efficiently heeded
well, you tell your bosses
they gained nothing by dispersing the crowds
by showing might in numbers,
by using threats to intimidate
they lost much more instead
they lost the respect of the people

the change we want will take a while
so go tell your bosses
a denial of rights only strengthens resolve
until the ISA is no more
we will meet again…. and again…
your force and ours
we with our candles and T-shirts
you with your batons and guns.

Ms Batik
5 August 2010

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