[Governance] On Bersih

Required reading: Alwyn Lau

The only reason that I see for people who started the rally thing is because they are in some political party, not the usual auntie/uncle/people who just wanted to live peacefully.

Oh and young folks who can’t think or bother to question on everything and follow blindly.

A friend and me were exchanging emails about the upcoming Bersih rally. His view was that the march was unnecessary, if only because at this point in time, we have no real proof that Bersih has spoken to the Elections Commission. By real proof I mean minutes of meeting, documentation, actual black and white or recordings to show that the talks had taken place and that the EC had stalled/ignored or even refused them. Plus, Malaysia is still a pretty peaceful country. A number of people who are protesting, from what I know, are those who have nothing to lose.

But then I got to thinking. I know people who will be marching personally. These are people, who, ordinarily would just want to live peacefully. In fact, during the Hindraf rally and other such events, these people often shook their heads and decided that it was not worth making such a big fuss. Bersih too, is one of those events. After all, they can still eat comfortably. They can still work and earn money. There is no real hindrance to living a comfortable life. And elections every five years… well, that’s every five years. Nothing big, really, when you think about it. Only the politicians like to make a big hoo-ha about it.

So what changed? What’s caused these peace-loving, normally quiet people to suddenly be vocal and demand electoral reforms? What’s changed that suddenly Bersih is a big thing? That people don’t think that Bersih is to be blamed for wanting to have a street rally, but rather the Government for obstructing them. And these are not citizens who are affliated with political parties (in fact, many are disgusted with our politicians on both sides) but ordinary citizens and Malaysians.

In other words, what changed that people hold the Government responsible for the inconvenience they now face instead of Bersih (which would have been the scenario three years ago)?

Honestly, I cannot tell you what changed for them, but I can tell you what changed for me.

Up to a week ago, I held the view that Bersih’s aim was noble. That their demands were reasonable. I did not, however, agree with the street rally. I did not agree that we needed a street march, not when you had UMNO Youth and Perkasa jumping on the bandwagon. Not when the threat of violence became very real.

What changed was Barisan Nasional’s actions. Harrassing and arresting people are nothing new. To go after people just for wearing the colour yellow, without any justification, now that is new. Since when did the colour yellow become illegal? The rule of law must prevail, says the Home Minister, but where is the law that prohibits the colour yellow?

What changed me was the realisation that I could be a mother. That if I stayed in this country, this is not the place I want her to grow up in. I do not want my son to grow up feeling he must conform because the state said so. I do not want my daughter to feel constrained because there are those who would cut her voice.

I do not want my children to grow up in a place where the rule of law is disregarded for the whims of a few.

I do not believe that the march is necessary to demand for electoral reforms. I do, however, believe the march is now necessary to show Barisan Nasional, and by extension, UMNO, that we do respect the rule of law. The Federal Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land, gives us the right and liberty to walk and gather peacefully. It does NOT give anyone the right to take that right away for political survival.

2 comments on “[Governance] On Bersih
  1. Frankly, I find it charming that people care enough to rally. A nation of apathetic people is prime breeding ground for political mismanagement, and if a person cares enough to want to change something, then they probably have some love for what they are trying to change.

    I think the entire Bersih fiasco is all very funny and riotously idiotic, but if I had to put a finger on why I’m not more enraged or upset than the occasional headdesk or facepalm moment, it’s because I really have no love for the country it’s taking place in. I miss some people there, but I don’t miss being there in the least, and I can think of any number of places I’d much rather spend the rest of my life in.

    So I find all these people who are raging about it, who blog and tweet and otherwise rant about it like it matters, who want to rally on a bloody Saturday to be very patriotic, and whether or not they have the right idea, if it’s a non-violent movement, they should be allowed to express it. If the authorities threaten violence, then all the more should the rally continue.

    If we allow our oppressors to scare us into silence with mere threats, we will always be oppressed. Change doesn’t come about through people minding their own business and only caring about their immediate circumstances; it comes through people who care about something greater than their own little worlds enough to want to affect more than just their own lives. Everyone I know in Malaysia has some complaint about the government. Now, instead of just complaining, you can do something, so go do what you believe is right no matter what the government says. There is no meaning to having rights if you don’t exercise them, and we certainly didn’t gain our independence by doing what the Brits wanted.

  2. Pingback: [Governance] On Bersih, part 2 — Ink to Screen

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