A change is going to come

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An inspired Kee Thuan Chye penned a poem specially for Aliran’s ‘People First, Democracy Now!’ night attended by a full house of 700 diners. What did he write about?

dance to thuan chye's poem
Elaine Pedley (left) and Judimar Hernandez dance as Marion D'Cruz (background, far left) reads out Kee Thuan Chye's poem at Aliran's 'People First, Democracy Now!' dinner

sing my beloved country
a change is going to come
when the hornbill flies from the white-haired rajah
and the dog’s head comes to its senses
from Kinabalu to the Kinta Valley
the monsoon flood will cleanse the dirt
listen, Gilgamesh, to the words of Utnapishtun
restore the order of Hammurabi
the tainted and the greedy will be swept away
and the earth will swallow the rent collectors

arise my beloved country
a change is going to come
when the ghosts of the murdered are finally appeased
and we dance on the graves of unjust judges
embrace the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace
where no one calls himself a lord
go forth, Yuanzhang, make bright the light
that shines for Umar on his nightly rounds
as he seeks out the hungry and cares for the weak
while the city sleeps in the lap of justice

rejoice my beloved country
a change is going to come
when the immigrant sheds the skin of the lion
and becomes his genuine self again
the scales that are faulty will no more serve
to weigh out favours in unequal parts
give us instead Ashoka’s wheel,
his welcome to all faiths, his love for all children
Martin will see the promised land
and the imam will sit down with the priest

a change is going to come, my beloved country,
so sing, arise, rejoice

READ MORE:  Some reforms but more expected of Pakatan

Kee Thuan Chye
May 2010
Kuala Lumpur

Written specially for Aliran’s ‘People First, Democracy Now!’ dinner held at the PJ Civic Centre on 26 June 2010.

Want to find out more about the characters mentioned in Thuan Chye’s poem? Aliran’s Wong Soak Koon explains who they are here.

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DR.JEFF BALAN
DR.JEFF BALAN

WHEN A GOVERNMENT FEARS A CARTOONIST OR A POET
I BEGIN TO WONDER
WHEN A GOVERNMENT FEARS OPPOSITION
I BEGIN TO PONDER
WHEN A GOVERNMENT FEARS FREE SPEECH
I BEGIN TO SHIVER
WHEN A GOVENMENT FEARS PROTEST
I BEGIN TO QUIVER
WHEN A GOVERNMET FEARS ITS PEOPLE
i wonder i wonder i wonder