The Summer Of Our Discontent

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These days in July have been the hardest.

What so many innocent Malaysians have been forced to endure is painful and heartbreaking to watch.

Police trucks are now massing on the city streets. Brigades of heavy boots have descended to meet our compatriots.

We demanded free and fair elections. And this was their chosen response.

As the helmets and truncheons stare down at us, take heart in knowing that their madness is now reaching a crescendo. Stand firm. Don’t break ranks.

Pause to remember the many decades that we, as a nation, have been subjected to the hysteria of political pogroms, mass arrests, threats and imprisonment.

While there will be more of these in the coming days and weeks, we also know now that they can inflict no further injury on a population that has finally been roused from political slumber and united in a single protest.

What started as a movement demanding free and elections has now become something much, much bigger owing to the ways by which government has chosen to react.

The madness of police raids on homes and offices looking for yellow T-shirts and arresting those wearing them has turned the current impasse, almost overnight, into a stand-off between the Silent Majority against their stubborn Oppressor.

In the face of harsh crackdowns across the country against many innocent supporters of electoral reforms, how can the silent majority still remain silent with their frustrations?

Many who just days ago wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with this gathering are now determined to participate despite all the risks. Now we see this is as a march against everything that is wrong with this government.

We march against its policies of divisiveness; against its double-standards and tolerance of racist and religious extremists. We march because we are tired of hearing that Jews, Communists, Christians, liberal Malays, Chinese and Indians are somehow all behind plots to destabilise our communities and economy.

We’re fed-up with having to sacrifice everything to live within our means in the face of rising fuel and food prices; homes and cars that are beyond our reach unless we commit ourselves to more debt.

We sacrifice all these only to see a government that still spends without any restraint and sense of priority.

We march because we want real solutions to real problems. We want an end to rampant corruption. We want elections that are clean and fair. We want to see courts dispense real justice. We want a professional police force that we can be proud of.

We march because we’re just fed-up with being fed-up.

But what will it take for this government to finally listen?

It’s a question it must think about — and answer fast — because in the days and weeks ahead, it may not matter anymore if this government listens or not.

Already, we’ve stopped relying on it to defend our rights and freedoms. Malaysians are learning very quickly now that if there are things they want defended, they have to do it themselves.

So when the truncheons start drumming against the shields, remember that the state’s last line of defence isn’t the police. No, not them.

It’s you — the ordinary citizen. You must hold the line because we have for too long let them take everything else away from us. A whole nation is gathered behind and in support of these brave marchers.

It’s a march in defence of a new Malaysia that’s emerging.

After these days in July, nothing will ever be the same again.

This article was previously published on The Malaysian Insider.


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Adrian Chew is a lawyer, writer and TMI columnist. A member of the LoyarBurok masthead, he also leads the crack editorial team behind the "Monkeysuit Protocol" column for August Man Magazine. He is an advocate for reading and the written word. His articles and book reviews can be read at ReadingMonk.com and Culturazzi.org. He tweets as @ReadingMonk on Twitter.

Posted on 15 July 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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