“Oh Rakyat”: A Song Inspired by Bersih

Zhi Wei sings a tribute to the rakyat.

Whether for or against it, Malaysians everywhere were gripped with yellow fever during the weeks leading up BERSIH 2.0 (and the weeks after as well — although it was arguably more significant before the rally).

Having seen how our government has poorly responded to the rally (and indeed, our people), having seen the courage, civility and restraint with which Malaysians conducted themselves on July 9th, I was profoundly affected by the BERSIH 2.0 movement.

I had to stay back for the summer in London, so I followed the updates online. Even through a computer screen, I found myself being immensely moved and inspired by stories from that day, whether they were told in words, photographs or videos. I developed a newfound respect and admiration for our people, our rakyat.

I guess you could say this song was a product of that inspiration, and an ode to the men, women, boys and girls who walked that day. I am no extraordinary musician or lyricist, but I just wanted to say, in the means of expression that I love most, that I salute you, my fellow Malaysians.

Thank you for doing what you did. Whether you agree with BERSIH or not, I hope we can all put aside our differences and hopefully sing along.


Oh rakyat
dah lama terluka
rasa pahit simpan saja
kini bangkit bersuara
mencari erti merdeka

The past few weeks
some things have got me thinking
police keep arresting
but people keep on marching
with tear gassing, water cannons splashing
letting nobody tell’em what they better believe in
Now wait a minute, somebody cried politics
But I don’t get it, I can’t understand when it’s
men and women
our friends and our children
walkin for democracy walkin for freedom
So have a seat for my version of detention
let me break it down in a short spelling lesson
It’s not UM-NO or D-A-P
It’s all about the r-a-k-y-a-t


Now I know some of y’all on a different page than me
But we can disagree, do it respectfully
Dissent, decorum going hand-in-hand
I can make my point, you can take your stand
Cause in the end, we’re all in this together
All fighting the good fight, to make our country better
We got the same goals, we share the same future
Why we letting them make us go against each other?
Merdeka means freedom, it knows no colour

It names every neighbor a brother, a sister
That’s what I saw that day in our street choir
Mr Prime Minister, can you say 1Malaysia?


Yeah bangkit, bangkit say it if you feel it
if not, please, let me to put it in context
cause it ain’t about which side you’re on
Bersatulah! That’s the sine qua non
This not about protesting and rallying
this about just waking up and caring cause
this is Negaraku, who’s gonna care but you
No change is gonna come if you don’t pursue
That’s true, time to stop talking, and start doing and start becoming
the dream that we dream so that we can start living it
if you’re a Malaysian, you best be singing it


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Posts by Lee Zhi Wei

Zhi Wei is big fan of music, big ideas and enjoys a good debate every now and then. He believes in the power of the simpler things in life, and expresses them vicariously through daily doodles of a fat penguin at http://afatpenguin.tumblr.com

Posted on 20 July 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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One Response to “Oh Rakyat”: A Song Inspired by Bersih

  1. too cool, Zhi Wei.