For JoFan Pang, Bersih is successful even before the actual rally
I received the news about the venue change for the BERSIH rally during class in college. The news about the Bersih committee’s audience with the King kept some of my friends and me in suspense for a good number of hours. Even though we did predict that outcome, the change of venue still came as a shock to us.
Our first thought was: how could a rally in a stadium possibly serve as a good substitute for a street rally? I mean, what could compare to our marching together in a “Walk for a free and fair elections”, making a statement and passing the message to Istana Negara? A friend is disappointed as he reckons the spirit and meaning of the rally is now altered.
Another issue brought up was whether YELLOW is now a “LEGAL COLOUR” in Malaysia. Since it’s now a “legal assembly” (though it was never illegal in the first place), would arrests still be made of people wearing yellow in support of the movement? Would everything that has been confiscated from the Bersih Secretariat office be returned? (Note to Bersih organisers: many of us are still waiting for the low-in-stock “S” and “M” sizes of the t-shirt). Above all, will all those who were arrested, especially that of the six PSM members under the Emergency Ordinance, be released following this royal consent? Our PM, in answer, gave a very sensible statement that he’ll leave the decision of the release of detainees to the police. Makes me wonder if in the first place he and his men could’ve been just as neutral on the arresting of these innocent yellow-loving people.
Coming back to the topic of venue change, as much as it may seem like a compromise and a giving-in, I’m still very much in favour of honouring the decision of our Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. After reading Leon Lee’s open letter to the YDPA, it made me feel proud to be a part of this Constitutional Monarchy system. At least in Malaysia we have our King to take a neutral stand in situations like these as a Head of State who has the best interest of the Rakyat and holds no political agenda. We could’ve been in for some really sticky situation if we were in a republic. This is the beauty of a Constitutional Monarchy. Ampun Tuanku Beribu-ribu Ampun. Sembah Patik harap Diampun.
Contrary to what many of my friends think, in my opinion, having the rally in a stadium really isn’t such a bad idea after all. Now that the rally is legal, and the FRU will not act violently in a legal assembly, more people can just decide to join the rally, wherever it may be. My parents for instance now feel more secure to let me go. Friends who thought it was not a good idea to join an ‘illegal’ rally now have decided to go as well. Yes, maybe it’s not so much of a “Walk for a free and fair elections” anymore, notwithstanding the line of yellow people walking around the stadium due to lack of parking, I still believe that numbers represents power. A stadium overflowing with an ocean of people in yellow-tshirts would send a strong and bold statement to the government and authorities. For ONCE we are given the chance to demonstrate ‘legally’ in this democratic country on such a scale, so why not make full use of it?
Speaking of things that have changed, I would also like to highlight the fact that the political awareness of the people — especially the young, among whom are my peers — have increased since the whole uproar of this rally began. Never in my life have I been given that many opportunities to share about the current situation of our nation with my peers. Over the past 3 weeks, friends came up to me asking:
“What is Bersih ah?”
“What is happening?”
“What’s with yellow?”
“What are all your tweets about?”
“Why is everybody talking about this?”
Even my classmates, who two weeks ago thought BERSIH is a mega laundry party, have now decided to all wear yellow this Friday in solidarity. I’m blown away. On Facebook as well, at least 10 friends of mine would add the BERSIH picbadge on their profile photos every day. I am very encouraged to see my news feed flooded with those profile pictures. Really, before the rally has even taken place, it is already a great success in creating nationwide awareness.
Talk about a generation that’s rising up to take their rightful place in Malaysia. Ignorance is slowly breaking apart. We have hope!
JoFan is passionate to see his peers and generation rise up together and take ownership of this country. He aspires to be a part of this change. He will NOT leave the country because he believes that Malaysia HAS the greener grass. He will be there on the 9th, wherever that will be.