Cowardice is the mother of cruelty

By May Chee Chook Ying
April 30, 2012

A police officer is pictured holding a camera during the Malacca edition of Bersih 3.0.A police officer is pictured holding a camera during the Malacca edition of Bersih 3.0.KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — See the guy in the centre, he’s my “Cop of the Year”. 

He was doing his duty, taking pictures and all, showing his pearly whites at all times. Because he was sweating profusely, the man on his right shielded him from the punishing sun with an umbrella.

That was when my husband asked if he minded if his picture was taken. He obliged willingly. To all cops in PDRM, Malacca, kudos to you for a job well done!

People started assembling at Dataran Pahlawan before 1pm, I think, because when I reached there then, there was already a huge crowd. For an hour, we stood at the steps that led to the field as the field was cordoned off for a brass band competition.

As the crowd grew bigger, some of us spilled into the road. We were told not to block traffic and to get nearer to the steps. Some of us exuberant ones urged the motorists to horn, which they did, to our delight.

The cops were great. They patrolled along the road, making sure that we didn’t spill too much out it. They were cordial at all times. Honestly, I’m so proud of our PDRM here in Malacca. Every now and then, I have such pleasant experiences with them.

We were across at McDonald’s, Mahkota Parade for almost an hour before we made our way to Dataran Pahlawan, which was just opposite. We painted the place yellow.

My two friends from KL were with me, another good friend who’s 77-years old, my husband and a group of youth from my church. I’m not bragging but these youth are the pillars of my church. It is they and their leadership together with another 30-40 odd youth who make the church come alive every mass and celebration.

You must come to my church, St. Theresa, Malacca, to know what I mean. Our choir, lectors, commentators, cantors, etc are largely made up of youth. This is rare, to have youth so generous with their time for God. I believe when they showed up at Dataran Pahlawan, they did it with God in mind. Great job, you guys!

At McDonald’s, a Malay couple came up to us and told us how they wished they could be with us. They said if they were found out for joining Bersih, they would not be able to keep their jobs or find other jobs.

I guess they were in the civil service and were talking about getting jobs in the civil service. We understood their stand. They wished us well before they left.

My KL friend asked my 77-year-old friend, “You not afraid-ah?”

He replied, “They can do anything they like to me. What’s there to be afraid?”

I brought my 77 year-old friend there, not to give him a heart attack but to show him that we are not alone in this. There are many out there willing to stand up to be counted; willing to claim back their motherland.

From 1-2 pm, we were led by some people into shouting “Bersih”, “Hidup Rakyat” and “Anti-Lynas”. There were a number of green shirts around.

At 2 pm, we tried to walk up the steps that led directly into the field. Our attempts were thwarted. I wasn’t right in front, so I can’t see what prevented us. My guess is the MBMB guys and perhaps some police were standing guard there.

Anyway, that didn’t deter us. We managed to go where we wanted to by using two other flights of steps on either side of these main steps.

We assembled right at the top of these main steps where some managed to sit while others remained standing because the concrete floor was really hot. I chose to stand. I could see that the whole field was cordoned off.

Two shades were erected on either side of the field, within the enclosed area. Another shade was at the left far end, in the centre above a flight of steps.

This was under a roof. Here, some tables were set for the VIPs to have lunch. There were some guests eating and some others under the shade watching the competition.

However, under the two other shades in the field, the spectators were actually the PDRM, about 20 on either side. Where we assembled was just beside one of these two shades.

I saw five MBMB guys grab a Malay youth by his collar and brought him into the enclosed area, a short distance away from the shade housing the PDRM. Poor chap turned pale.

I told one of the lawyers on duty and he wasted no time going to the boy’s help. I saw another lawyer friend in yellow who also went to the boy’s aid. He was released shortly.

I felt that they wanted to make an example of the boy. The PDRM guys were cool while these MBMB guys tried to flex those scrawny muscles. Cis!

There were speeches now and then. We also circled around the area, chanting those 3 slogans and maybe, others. At times, we were just beside the PDRM who kept their cool. Some of them smiled at us.

Not all cops are bad, not my Malacca cops, anyway! At about 3pm, we went up to the concourse under the roof.

We were then, numbering a few thousands, so the whole place was packed. More speeches and chanting of slogans. Some signed on this huge “Bersih” banner.

At around 3.30 pm, we walked down, then turned around, heading towards the fort. That’s when I saw this Indian couple, easily in their late seventies, walking with the rest of us. What a loving and charming pair!

The youth were so enamoured that they got each of them to hold up a banner after taking a picture of them. So cute!

By the way, I could recognize many people there – pensioners, doctors, lawyers, my vegetable lady, my hee-kiau lady, my kou-low-mee man, my nasi lemak man, my roti canai man, my tailor and many others. Everyone you knew was there. I was so, so happy!

There was a moment of comic relief. As we were reaching the fort, A’Famosa, a group of about 15 Malay boys, led by someone in his early twenties, rushed out from around the Subaidah reastaurant.

Their leader and two others wore red shirts, the rest an assortment of colours. They shouted “Hancur, Hancur” at us.

The yellow crowd in front rushed back from the fort to counter them with “Bersih, Bersih”. It was hilarious because the majority of these “Hancur” boys were hardly touching puberty. Guess their loyalty came cheap! The yellow shirts just laughed and continued their way to the fort.

At the fort, the chanting of slogans continued, then a speech or so, before we dispersed at 4pm. I left for home, happy. A good outing, I thought.

When a group of boys said, “Wah, aunty, terror-ah!”, I replied, “This aunty can die today ,happy!”

However, my happiness was short-lived. After reaching home, I tuned into what was happening elsewhere. Bersih 3.0 at KL ended in chaos!

I was at Bersih 2.0 in KL, so I know how the crowd would have behaved – good at all times, caring for one another, never allowed to provoke, a fantastic camaraderie.

If it ended in chaos, it could only mean one thing. There were agent provocateurs, red-shirts under the yellows, the PDRM acted excessively, worse than before.

I have been so naïve! I told my husband Bersih 3.0 would be safe, because this time around, elections are too close. The powers-that-be wouldn’t be so stupid as to create trouble to jeopardize their chances at the polls.

They have admitted they acted excessively the last time. They said there would be no traction this time. We can rally peacefully.

Yet, eye witnesses have come forward to say they saw the police rolling back the razor wires, pulling down the barricades to let the protestors into the Dataran Merdeka.

Yellow shirts turning around to handcuff other yellow shirts. SB? Journalists, photographers , lawyers  and even old ladies were beaten up. The rakyat have already dispersed, walking to their cars.

Those walking to the stations were locked in as public transport was immobilised. They just wanted to show their patriotism to king and country, for wanting a better Malaysia for all. Is that so wrong? They are good Malaysians. Do you have to hurt them?

It’s easy but painful to see why they dared to show such indifference and brutality to the electorate, to the rakyat. To these 500,000 that were supposed to assemble at Bersih 3.0, fighting  for free and fair elections – they, the present government don’t need our votes.

They know just how much they can do to cheat us of our votes. They think they don’t need our votes. They are so confident that they can rig the elections to their favour. They are so confident of winning.

Guess what? We must and can prove them wrong. They have broken our hearts but not our spirits. We stand up again and again, till Malaysia become ours, once again.

It’s crucial – every vote counts. The Opposition, please be smart. No three-way fights. Compromise, remember, every vote counts.

Return East Malaysia to the East Malaysians. It’s their birthright. They should be able to enjoy what’s their own.

Compromise. Opposition in the Peninsula, work together; work with the East Malaysians. East Malaysians, you may need help from your Peninsula brothers and sisters.

Don’t be stubborn, work together. Together, we can sink this coward of a government. One that sees it fit to hurt their own brothers and sisters. One that has betrayed us, again and again. Please, I beg of you, compromise.

Opposition, both Peninsula and East Malaysia, don’t miss the jungle for the trees. It’s not about you. It’s not about who should be the next PM. It’s about being able to live with dignity.

Did they think you were human when they herded you in like cattle to be slaughtered? Did they think you had any dignity when they plundered your states of your wealth? Did they think you mattered when they allowed others to vote in your place?

Did they think our youth were our future when they called in thugs to whack them blue? We don’t matter, our kids don’t matter. Why should they matter? I can’t believe I’m saying all these.

I try to be non-partisan. When I took part in Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, it wasn’t about politics. I don’t care about politics but I care that we are able to live freely and with dignity.

I care that my brothers and sisters in Malaysia have a roof over their heads, food on the table, have their grievances addressed by those they voted in to help them. I care about a true Malaysia. And what’s true?

We live in a beautiful country, with plenty of natural resources. We are united as one, irrespective of creed and colour. I’m going to name my grandchildren Travis Tuppani , Emma Abdullah, etc. I’m ok with this, so are you, right?

How is it that my brothers and sisters still live in poverty? How is it that my brothers and sisters have to beg to be educated?

How is it that we have to cross oceans and live elsewhere to realize our true potential while idiots and goons rule the country?

Did you cry when your fellow Malaysians were tear-gassed, beaten up, etc? Did you feel their pain? Don’t you dare tell anyone again, your conscience is clear!

Enough is enough! We can put a stop to this. No more broken promises. No way will we believe you when you say “People first, Performance now” and whatnots, for you have proven we are not people to you but cattle.

We are worse than cattle to you, because at least, your cattle live in condos! No way are we going to believe that you are going to perform now.

To my fellow Malaysians who were hurt at Bersih 3.0, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to share your pain.

I pray that you were not seriously hurt and that you will heal fast for we need each other to rise again. To fight another day, against this brutal government of the day.

May God bless you, all.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider