Bersih 3.0 saw Malaysians irrespective of age, ethnicity or gender, from across the globe and across Malaysia holding hands to say, we are the Spirit, Heart and Soul of Malaysia. We, mature Malaysians, now say: bring on the reforms, asserts Bersih Mum.
Why would a mother attend Bersih’s ‘Duduk Bantah’ on 28 April 2012?
Simple; if Rosa Parks did not sit and Martin Luther King did not walk, Obama could never have run for the US Presidency.
I knew that even one more person would make a difference and so I attended Bersih 3.0 and sat down for a better Malaysia. A better Malaysia for my children and yours so that the voice of our next generation would be heard, that their votes would count.
It all starts with us and we can make that difference, yes my friend, you, me and all other Malaysians hand in hand, we can do it! For beneath our differently coloured skin and despite our ethnicity, the diversity in our ways, in our religions, we all share one thing in common, the Spirit, Heart and Soul of Malaysia, it lives within each Malaysian.
I walked at Bersih 1.0, because one man (RPK) said, don’t talk if you don’t walk! I was afraid that if I did not walk, I could not do what I loved so much… talk! It was an eye opener for me, from far away Kelantan, I met many silver-haired makciks and pakciks, who came at their own expense as they heeded the call of their Tok Guru. And I, a KLite would have missed an important lesson of standing up and voicing out for what is right. It was also a lesson on how the news media turned around an event and made it look unsavoury.
When Bersih 2.0 came around, I was overcome by the fear that was created; however better sense prevailed. Not known to be one to succumb to cowardice, I made my way, though somewhat late into KL.
There I met some young college students who had come all the way from Perlis.
They admonished me, “Auntie you are from KL and you are late!”
I queried this group of young college-going Malay students to find out how much they were paid to attend the rally.
Angrily they said even the drinks in their hands was paid by their own money.
I continued to query them that they got a good education more easily than our kids
They told me they had no problems and would love to study with Malaysians of all races. They said they dreamed of a clean Malaysia, free from corruption, a Malaysia where their votes would count and their voices be heard; so they came to support the cause of free and fair elections.
A lesson well learned from my young friends.
Come Bersih 3.0, I started checking with friends, as I did not want to walk alone this time and wanted more people to feel the true Spirit of Malaysia. So a few friends decided to meet up in KL. Voila… we must have made for some pretty odd company! One staid human resources professional and another very conformist office goer, yours truly, a mom of two. Before long, we were joined by two soon-to-be priests from East Malaysia. My two other friends whom I was originally to meet, one a lecturer and the other a fitness trainer, joined the rally at Brickfields; however, we did not manage to meet up, as the mobile phone service seemed to be jammed. Did we care that we were, Indian, Chinese, Eurasian or East Malaysian? Wow, we were just a great fruit salad of Malaysian friendship!
With our cars parked in the vicinity of Taman Jaya LRT station, we took the LRT to Central Market. The train was bustling with excitement and people were updating themselves about the news of the rally; it was a very festive atmosphere. On the LRT, I met two young college girls who said that their parents were bringing them to the rally. Bravo to such parents!
I told these girls, that one day they could proudly tell their kids that they made a stand for a better electoral system and for a better Malaysia. Though we were apprehensive if the doors of the train would open at Central Market, they did and all the Bersihers eagerly made a beeline for the exit.
At Central Market, we just could not believe what we saw: thousands upon thousands of yellow- and green-attired Bersihers. It looked like a huge carnival of happy Malaysians! Despite the heat and the blazing sun, we joined the long and winding queue of cheerful and happy people. These were Malaysians with a Mission, who were out there to be counted and make a difference for the country.
As we all walked in an orderly fashion, the crowds surged from Menara MayBank on Tun Perak until Dataran Merdeka. Even the side lanes had huge spillovers; Lebuh Ampang, Hang Lekiu and Tun HS Lee, were just teeming with happy Malaysians.
We met with Malaysians from Pahang, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and as far as East Malaysia, the previous night we saw a huge convoy of motor bikes making their way to Kuala Lumpur at the Seremban exit. These Malaysians were Malays, Indians, Chinese and others. These Malaysians were young and old, male and female or any other. These Malaysians were college students, lecturers, working professionals, business people, lawyers, home-makers, NGOs, retirees – truly everyone who was anyone was represented here. Mr Prime Minister, really it was through Bersih 3.0 we truly experienced, and saw your 1Malaysia in practice. Not just lip service mind you.
A huge five-feet-long yellow moon ball was being tossed in the air and passed down the street over our heads. It sure was fun and bore the prints of thousands of Malaysians. A police helicopter overhead provided some distraction as it kept buzzing past us. Soon we heard an ambulance wailing and quietly the people parted and made way to allow the ambulance to pass. Only later did we read that it had taken one of the injured policemen to hospital; we wish him a speedy recovery.
We moved with the crowd, from Central Market towards Petaling Street, from Tun HS Lee to Tun Perak. We walked, we stood, we sat and fraternised with other Malaysians on what used to be high traffic areas of Kuala Lumpur. Those who attended most certainly enjoyed a lovely afternoon of camaraderie with strangers. What bound us together as one, was our Mission for a clean and fair election and a clean environment. To the green ‘rallyers’ from Kuantan, syabas!
Actually we saw many a savvy entrepreneur doing roaring business; as we downed bottles and bottles of water and drinks. Food was greedily purchased and helped to quell our hunger pangs. Though the LRT/Monorail and KTM must have had their best day of revenue ever, they have not yet yet said thank you to Bersih 3.0. Most of us used public transport, and perhaps this was the biggest congregation of Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur ever! If those who screamed that they lost business had been smart enough to keep their shops open, for sure with all the out station Malaysians, they would have had a good profitable day too.
Sometime close to 3.30pm we decided to move away, as we thought our huge presence would have made the government realise that Malaysians won’t put up with mere words of electoral reforms; they want to see concrete action and proper implementation.
How wrong we were, just as we were moving away, we heard tear gas being shot. Still the people did not run, the message passed down the lines was, “Don’t panic, please move behind slowly.” Such an orderly group, we were present for almost four hours and did not see even one of the thousands of Bersihers misbehave, even as the tear gas was being fired. We just thought it was a signal for us to disperse as the committee had sought permission for 2.00pm to 4.00pm. Yes, the acidic gas of the tear gas had a choking effect on us: our skin flared up, our eyes teared, and we were a long way from home.
Were you there my friend to witness the Pas Unit Amal and the young Malay men form a human chain and walk to the front lines, to protect us? It brought tears to my eyes, and my heart warmed. To my children, I say, there is still hope for you; for I know there are still people of another race who will sacrifice for you.
We walked to Dang Wangi LRT only to find it closed and then made it to the Bukit Nanas Monorail. As we bought our tickets, we exchanged notes about the rally. Our Malay brethren were simply shocked and could not believe that their ‘brothers’ had shot tear gas directly at them. The trains were just full of Malaysians, all of whom would have stories to tell. Those from out of town were tired but still needed to take trains to their homes. It took us more than three hours to reach our homes, though we live in the suburbs of Subang Jaya; how much more difficult it would have been for those who travelled from other states?
Back home, to our horror, we heard that some skirmishes between the police and the people had started and were continuing. As for us, we just saw thousands of Malaysians walking and sitting peacefully, organising themselves with decorum. There were no leaders to guide us; yet some took responsibility to direct the people, to pass the word to sit or to move and none questioned them, thousands just followed. It was a day I was truly proud to be with so many Malaysians. Youth with plastic bags, were seen clearing the garbage. A young lad came and asked me “Miss, are you alone, do you want us to accompany you to the train station?”
Did we hear some leader saying that the Bersih was kotor? Let us ask you Mr Cabinet Minister, what about the dirty game of phantom voters, of foreigners with ICs, of gerrymandering, isn’t that dirtier? To the TV and other news media, stop the crap of showing only the things that went wrong; in fact many are asking if the provocation was planned. Show the people the huge turnout, show Malaysians from all walks who walked and sat for a cause and be proud – for your children too will enjoy a better Malaysia.
28 April 2012, Bersih 3.0, was the day that Malaysians across the globe and all across Malaysia sent a strong message to their government: We want clean and fair elections. It was a day, when Malaysians irrespective of age, race or sex, from across the globe and across Malaysia held hands to say, we are the Spirit, Heart and Soul of Malaysia. We, mature Malaysians, now say: bring on the reforms please.
P.S. A salute to the thousands, who at personal cost came from out of town; to my Chinese brothers and sisters, cheers, you came out in huge numbers in full support … to my Indian brothers and sisters … Anneh, Thamby, where were you? We missed you-lah at Bersih 3.0.
Dear reader, never underestimate the power of ONE, and it starts with you! You too can make a difference.
Bersih Mum is the pseudonym of a mother who yearns for a better Malaysia for her children.