As expected, it was show time again with the usual ludicrous parodies of roguish morons and minions. Puerile “wayang silat” of breaking some twigs and tiles over their numb skulls to instill fear by the usual thuggish scumbags in red attracted only public repugnance and disgust. What else can one expects from idiots with empty thick skulls. Last minute gazette banning of anything yellow with Bersih 4 by the Home Ministry to intimidate only boosted Bersih 4 T-shirt into must have collector’s item and a roaring business for enterprising re-prints.
The barricading of Dataran Merdeka by not too intelligent KL Municipal Council, the malevolent and mischievous assertion of Emergency military intervention by the not too apolitical Defence Chief and to top it all the unbecoming name calling by the definitely embarrassing Prime Minister, did nothing to intimidate Bersih participants but only manage to add steel to their resolve. Bersih 4’s momentum could no longer be crushed nor contained nor stemmed.
Missus & I were part of the 3-bus convoy of from out station Sungai Petani, Kedah. We were quite anxious but well prepared to meet any untoward incidents, packing some salt, a thick facial towel, 2 bottles of water and a gas mask and well briefed on the escape strategy. We were very excited, raring to be in the thick of action for Bersih 34-hour Rally had started in Kuala Lumpur a few hour prior and Dr Mahathir did grace the rally just now. Well, he was still most welcome despite being the chief architect of the nation’s malignant rot as his rights to do so as any free citizens of the country. In any case, he has become the enemy of those who walk on the corridors of power. His wife, Datin Siti Hasmah, though was most welcome anytime, anywhere and anyhow.
Sigh, where is Starship Enterprise when we needed it most? Warp speed or better still beam us there, Scotty. Instead we boarded our bus for my longest and most bone rattling trip to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived after a longer than usual trip. We alighted light headed and rubber footed at Titiwangsa LRT station as many roads toward the city center were closed in preparation for the Merdeka celebration.
Peering down from the alleviated LRT on our way to Masjid Jamek station, I spotted only a smattering of yellow around SOGO. I felt a bit disheartened for SOGO is one of the 5 designated rallying points. Where is yellow tsunami that reportedly flooded the area yesterday? Did I hear correctly or is the whole affair just exaggerated rumors? I bit back my comments from my enthusiastic missus beside me. We alighted at Masjid Jamek station, the epicenter of the previous night rally and the sleep over, into a rather deserted Jalan Tun Perak, serene and calm morning. Not many were still sleeping on cardboards along the sides and middle dividers of the road some were in tents while those awake were chatting mutedly. Again, where are the thousands reported?
A few were gathered under service tents along the road handing out free bread, packed meal, nasi lemak and bottled water, providing first aid and medical attention or just looking for volunteer clean-up crew. Well, this time around, things were much better organized I daresay learning from past experiences. Many donated food and drinks even coffee and mooncakes and many more stepped forward to volunteer their time and energy to serve the multitude of Bersih participants and to clean up thereafter.
I was met by a sweet lady at one of such stations who offered, “Good morning, sir, would you like to have some bread and water,” and jokingly added, “Or me?” earning laughter from those around. I opted for “me” and took a photograph with her for keepsake. I was interviewed by a student for her Youtube assignment on Bersih. I was actually intrigued when I saw her talking into her right palm. I thought she must have gone bonkers until I saw her miniature recorder. We also met Arul from Party Socialist Malaysia.
Notwithstanding, I did feel that the atmosphere was rather subdued after the reported energy, vibes and vibrancy on the preceding night. The night’s high octane celebration seemed to have dissipated overnight rather quickly. Or is it just the calm before the impending storm?
Anyway, with a slight falter of trepidation, we meandered toward Central Market and Petaling Street, the other two rallying points. My heart hoped, rather unconfidently, actually unconvincingly that most must have gone there for an early breakfast. We passed by Central Market which was closed and empty. My shoulders sagged a notch when we entered Petaling Street. Most street vendors and shop were closed. I quickened my pace toward the side street food hawkers.
I caught the fragrant whiff of Petaling Street’s famous Chinese pancake. The aroma was comfortingly sweet and hot for then I realized my early trepidation was unfounded, ill conceived presumptions. I turned the corner, my heart leapt. Truly, many were already heartily digging into their breakfast, early risers and those few I saw earlier were hangover sleepers. I had wanton noodle whilst my missus Hakka noodle. I needed my caffeine kick but somehow the shop help refused, divinely or purposely or inadvertently I knew not, to take my orders.
We then walked back to Masjid Jamek, stopped over in front of the Bar Council building where a Pastor was preaching to his 100-strong flock. We took some photographs at the police barricades across Leboh Pasar Besar leading into Dataran. The scene was very tranquil with the presence of a handful of police on the other side of the barricades unlike the chaos and tear gas from police brutality during Bersih 3.
As we ambled back to Jalan Tun Perak, then tempo began to pick up and yellow crowd thickened. I was so grateful that volunteers were handing out free cups of coffee. I unashamedly asked for two to stave off the onset of cold turkey from caffeine deficiency. The coffee was not just aromatic but tasted damn good. I was floating in the heavens on my first sip, and you probably need a pair of pliers to tear the contented smile from my face.
Anyway, the yellow crowd began to thicken further as we neared the police barricades across Jalan Raya/Tun Perak junction, the morning’s epicenter. “Ceramah” at that junction was already in full swing interspersed occasionally by chants of “Bersih! Bersih!” and “Reformasi! Reformasi!” More and more participants in yellow began to pour into the already crowded junction, some carrying banners, buntings and placards, and of course mock-up cheques for RM$2.6 billion payable to you know who.
On the other side of the barricades was just a deserted Dataran Merdeka. The ubiquitous and angry presence of FRUs and “Black Maria” trucks arrayed in battle formations during Bersih 3 were gratefully absent despite earlier Police threats and intimidations. Tactically, Bersih 4 made the right decision to rallying around Dataran on the eve of Merdeka leaving no opportunity whatsoever for the Police and provocateurs to instigate any riots or clashes as they did during Bersih 3 unless they want to ruin or even cancel the following day 58th Merdeka Celebration.
We waded back against the incoming yellow tide away from the epicenter as more and more participants strolled in for we needed our toilet break. My missus was cautiously skittish for there were provocateurs, shit stirrers, in our midst. A handful has been caught the night before. We meandered away from serious “ceramah” into the festivity, snapping photographs, singing and chanting along as we made our way towards St. John’s Catholic Church on a small hillock at Jalan Bukit Nanas. The Church had truly heeded the Lord’s call of grace to serve by attending to the needs of participants. For that I am proud of the Church’s acts of grace and grateful to the church volunteers for their efforts and smiles.
Apart from bread and water, I did enjoy two refreshingly succulent and sweet oranges and engaged in a quick chat with one of the volunteers. It was Sunday morning, Mass was being conducted, and lo and behold a familiar lady strolled into the compound. We were pleasantly surprised to see Aunty Annie better known as Aunty Bersih. At the first glance, she could be easily misunderstood as a skinny grumpy aunty with a quarrel with the rest of the world but she is actually quite a sweet unassumingly lady especially when she smiles but still feisty no less.
We walked back to Petaling Street for the second time that morning. The place was crowded bustling with business especially the food and drinks vendors. Main street media would probably spin the old business losses sob story caused by Bersih for those gullible public. My energy battery was buzzing off warning incessantly, my legs were stiff and aching and I was sweating like a pig from the heat and my morning walk, I reckoned I must have walked at least 10 km already by then. I gulped down a bottle of soya bean and two glasses of herbal tea, all ice cooled and sweetened, for I needed to cool down, re-hydrate and re-energize.
Rested and refreshed, we started to stroll, while I actually limped, back toward Masjid Jamek. My legs finally gave way and refused to cooperate, unwilling to take further agonizing steps. So we stopped to take a 5 minute breather and sat on the walkway outside HSBC Bank along Leboh Ampang just to watch and enjoy the ebbs and flows of the yellow tides. Some enterprising youth were selling mini Bersih flags and another man was hawking the noisy vuvuzelas in front of us.
An Indian couple was at lost what to do when one of their 3 children, the youngest refused to let go off the vuvuzela. She made it very clear she wanted one and her parents were in some sort of a dilemma as it was obvious they could not afford one, not to mention 3 as their other two children were also holding tightly to a vuvuzela each. They just looked at each other waiting for the other to break the hearts of their children. I was about to limp over when another kind soul beat me to it. She spoke to the vendor and paid for all three. The couple was surprised by the act of kindness and could not but thanked the kind lady profusely. Indeed, deep down we are all hard wired with kindness and kindness is color blind.
Time passed rather quickly and before I know it, we have sat there enjoying the festivity in front of us for almost an hour. My eye-lids were getting heavy. I was quite exhausted by then and I need a short power nap. We moved and sat at the entrance of HSBC Bank, I was hoping to catch some shut eye. Soon, it started to drizzle which quickly turned into a downpour. People were running helter-skelter for cover and many were already caught too late to escape thoroughly drenched. I thought that would bring Bersih 4 to a quick and premature end, cooling down the feverish built up and washing out the momentum gathered. I gazed upon the heaven and muttered a silent prayer. Let the downpour, heavy no doubt, but be a short one just enough to cool down the temperature for a more comfortable night finale and not be a protracted deluge to totally washout Bersih 4 for good for the rest of the day.
True enough, many must have uttered the same prayers for the rain quickly reduced into a drizzle then stopped. Yellow tides began to return in their earnest after that even those drenched earlier to rejoin the thousands who did not flee but celebrated in the rain. There seems to nothing under heaven or on mother earth, definitely not even from those who walk on the corridors of power that could or would douse this fiery passion of Bersih 4. As in Hollywood, come hell or high water, the show must go on.
I picked up my lazy ass and joined with the throngs gravitating to the epicenter at Masjid Jamek LRT station. Mien Gott! The atmosphere was electrifying and the mood celebratory. Jalan Tun Perak was inundated in yellow by the thousands, a hundred thousand at least, participants proudly wearing the forbidden Bersih 4 T-shirts. They jam-packed like sardines on the road, middle dividers and kerbs from Lebuh Pasar Besar junction all the way to Jalan Raja junction. Ranks upon ranks of some 80-100 participants across packed in only standing space over almost a kilometer of Jalan Tun Perak. More were pouring in from every possible nook and cranny. If I have to make a guesstimate, I reckoned some 120-150 thousands would be about right ballpark figure, were there to make a united stand for clean elections, a clean government, to save the economy and the freedom to demonstrate.
Despite the threats of physical violence and arrest, Malaysians from all walks of life, regardless of race and religion came to stand together. The mood was exuberant and festive, enthusiasm cheerful and energetic and passion feverish and electrifying. We will not be afraid anymore. We will not be cowed anymore. We will not be silenced anymore. We have found our voice. Our voice, the People’s Voice for a better Malaysia will reverberate aloud across the country and the globe. Ignore this People’s Voice at your own peril!
Despite threats of bloodshed, many Malaysian Chinese have finally found their courage to step out of the age old long suffering virtue and take the stand that enough is enough. We will not remain silent or be browbeaten as “pendatang” anymore as before. To all you foul mouth evil heart hate mongers I say go eat shit! To your idiotic “Apa lagi Cina mahu (What else do you Chinese want)” rhetoric, I say “Bodoh! Sejak bila kami ambil barang-barang kamu (Stupid! Since when did we take anything from you).” And remember, ailing tigers we are not.
Despite similar threats, torching of churches and confiscations of Malay bible or banning of the use of the word “Allah”, the Church of God has finally found the boldness and faithfulness to step up and out in love and to stand in the gap for righteousness as should any true followers of Christ, and not hide behind the old theology of meekly turning the other cheek each time and cowardly every time.
The only fly in the ointment for Bersih 4 I must admit was the almost hijacking by politicians hawking their political agenda and raring to provoke Establishment’s retaliations. Gratefully, all participants stayed true to the call and course of Bersih 4 right to the end, staying out of Dataran and finally dispersing peacefully when the final bell was struck.
I am proud of all my fellow Malaysians who stood united at Bersih 4. Individually were a a mere drop but together we are a tsunami. We are truly appointed by destiny. Our voice will clearly thunder into history. We will undoubtedly overcome inequality. We will certainly prevail over adversity. We will definitely triumph over evil travesty. Together, we will surely forge a free, fair and equitable Malaysia for our children and our children’s children. Viva Bersih! Viva Malaysia!