We did it once… we are going to do it again!
|Shamini served as a news journalist for some years and now works as a media and communications manager at a private university. When she's not stabbing furiously at her computer, she's in a bar somewhere drinking in great music or at home devouring her favourite authors. She can be reached at [email protected]|
APRIL 7 — April 28 it is.
When I joined thousands of Malaysians last July 9, making our presence heard and felt on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to force the government of Malaysia to take the people’s united voice seriously, I knew, like every other person with me, that I was making a difference.
Since Bersih 2.0, we have seen, felt and heard an intensity so naked and so pure among Malaysians who want nothing more than a better country to live in. A country we have called home all our lives. A country we choose to still believe in.
Although it is disheartening that the third installation of the Bersih movement is championing the exact same eight recommendations we called for last year, my pride lies in the face of the political awakening that has taken many of us by storm. We are now unafraid to say we want better leadership, government accountability and transparency, and an overall better life as a Malaysian.
Did Bersih 2.0 then fail? Hardly.
Is Bersih 3.0 necessary? Let’s see:
● The Freedom of Assembly Act that was rushed through Parliament was a mockery.
● The Printing Presses and Publications Act still hangs in the air.
● The Election Commission says the next GE will see a “longer” campaign period of “at least 10 days.”
● The report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform was passed in Parliament without debate. What rubbish.
● The amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act have yet to come to pass. A state-sanctioned seminar geared at schoolteachers for heaven’s sake, and which outlandishly promoted religious strife, was allowed to take place. And we have one of the best education systems in the world, Mr DPM? Give me a break.
● Perkasa still exists.
● Public funds are continuously abused and the lame excuses politicians attempt to feed us are expected to shut us up.
● As I write this piece, friends are holding a meeting on the funding cut by the Ministry of Health for the HIV and AIDS cause, which has resulted in a major scaledown of care and support programmes for people living with HIV and AIDS, and resulting in roughly 100 jobs lost. Unfair!
● Fill in this blank. You are sure to find at least one reason for April 28. Enough. Again, enough.
We can expect to hear that the authorities are going to crack down on April 28 protestors. We may even be tear gassed, be at the receiving end of water cannons, or be arrested again.
But we will also sing “Negaraku” and discover new meaning to those words imprinted in our brains. We will smile at another Malaysian and feel tears in our eyes because there is one reason only we gather — for a better country.
For me, the Bersih movement is not just about electoral reforms, but how this forms the fundamental from which all the wrongs in the country can be put right.
If there is anything our pompous politicians should have learned in the aftermath of Bersih 2.0 is that they could not silence thousands of people who had gathered for one cause.
They cannot continue to feed us lies or whitewash issues and hope they go away. The only mature thing to do is to allow those of us who choose to take to Dataran Merdeka on April 28 to do so without sending in battalions of uniformed personnel to shoot tear gas canisters into the faces of Malaysians, but to protect us as we exercise our citizens’ rights.
In recent months and years, the political awakening amongst Malaysians, especially the younger Malaysians — and mind you, these are the income generators, taxpayers, and voters — has gained new heights.
The government of Malaysia must remember that the people, when united in a cause, are a force to be reckoned with.
We proved it with Bersih 2.0. Let’s prove it again come April 28.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.