I don’t usually wear yellow, but I bought a yellow hoodie this morning, and wore it with pride. I, like many other Malaysians, wanted to be a part of the historic events shaping my country’s future.
The Bersih (clean) coalition calls for clean elections and true democracy, which, despite what our ministers may say, is not what we have had in Malaysia for a loooong time. In 2007 the first Bersih rally was held in Kuala Lumpur. Last year the Bersih 2.0 rally brought together thousands of Malaysians at home and around the world.
Things just haven’t changed, so today Bersih 3.0 brought us all together once again, to stand up for ourselves and for our country. “Duduk Bantah” (sit-in protest) events were held across the globe, and I was so pleased when I saw an event for Aberdeen, so I went along and got involved.
It was a small but determined group of us on King’s Lawn at Aberdeen University. We chatted, ate, played frisbee, and even got a photo with a piper who’d just been at a wedding. We had a pleasant afternoon, made some new friends, and went home feeling proud to have played our part.
Meanwhile, back at the main event in Kuala Lumpur, things weren’t quite so rosy. Once again the authorities behaved ridiculously, closing numerous roads and public transport stations, and basically causing more chaos. Sadly the violence was repeated also, on both sides, although the authorities were again unnecessarily heavy handed.
Instead of closing down the individual troublemakers that are always present at any rally, they take out entire crowds of peaceful protestors with water cannons and multiple canisters of tear gas shot directly at them. In this particular video, the people and the police face off, then by 4:14 the crowd moves forward and starts sitting down right in front of the police line. Then the police attack. Even the press (and freedom of) suffered along with the protestors.
Edit: This video is well edited, and beautifully sums up what it was all about, and what happened in Kuala Lumpur.
Why the need for police barriers at all? Why all this chaos? Simply because a government refuses to let citizens gather peacefully in their own public spaces. The public venue that the organisers requested for this gathering was denied to them on the grounds that the nature of the event was not appropriate for this venue. Not health and safety, not that the event itself was banned. No, citizens just can’t gather to discuss government corruption and electoral reform in the nation’s Independence Square. Since our independence in 1957 the same government has been in power, and they really don’t like this idea that they serve the people and not the other way round.
Thankfully the gatherings in other Malaysian and international venues seemed to have carried on quite peacefully. We hope there won’t have to be a Bersih 4.0, but if things don’t change we will persevere. We will keep turning out in the thousands, everywhere. We will show the government that they can’t keep fooling us, that we know all about their scandals, what they’ve done to our country and what they haven’t done for our country. All we want is a government, any government, that is fair, and does right by its people. We will keep doing what we’re doing until change happens. It will happen.