Side Views

I fear for my country — Michelle Chan (loyarburok.com)

APRIL 30 — I was having tea yesterday with a few others who were at the first Bersih press conference post-Bersih 3.0. Everyone was sharing personal accounts of their day. Amongst us were those who were severely assaulted and detained up till the dawn of the following day.

Upon seeing Fazwan’s swollen left eye and bruised right face, I recalled the feeling of crying out in pain and force after being hit by the tear gas unexpectedly. Later, I saw Nunu’s injured lower spine and felt that same helplessness I was stirred into when sitting on the curb of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, recovering from the tear gas. Both Fazwan and Nunu were attacked by groups of policemen, no less than half a dozen. My heart sunk knowing that authorities attacked farther after demonstrators were dispersing already.

Later, I returned to Masjid Jamek for a Sunday free-food distribution for the homeless and destitute. Walking these streets again felt like meeting an old friend. These walls have endured so much yesterday, I thought.

I was told that a local homeless person was hospitalised after a session of heavy assault by a group of eight policemen. He wore a T-shirt which he picked up in a back alley, which just happened to be a Bersih T-shirt, which people changed out of after the policemen went ape at arresting everyone and anyone in yellow.

“They would only do this because they know it won’t make it to the newspapers,” said a foreigner who helped at the distribution. It is true.

More stories were shared, from the eyes and ears from within the Dataran Merdeka.

Reading stories from the Internet about Bersih is different from listening to stories on the streets. If you are reading this, you are literate, you possess a high-technology gadget and you have access to the Internet. There are still many people from the streets who, like many of us, were scared shitless and terrified by the actions of the authorities on Saturday. In fact, they see the abuse of power on more casual basis. However, they may not be privileged enough to be able to share their experiences.

One particular elderly homeless I met told me her story through hand signals. She can only speak very basic Cantonese such as “I went” and “Pain”. The rest of her stories was painted by her facial lines. She cannot string a proper sentence in her mother tongue, what more to understand why she is not entitled to her rights and who represents her in the Parliament. All she knows is that life goes on, and everyday is a new battle.

I go on social networking and news sites, and see the overflow of emotions — good and bad — about the Bersih 3.0 protest. Some say that they are changed after the protest, and I hope everyone will continue to be more aware of national affairs because Malaysia is a democratic country and everybody needs to participate for it to be democratic.

We need change, and I believe I am witnessing progress.

Why did a quarter million Malaysians spend their Saturday on the roads when we are already sick and tired of traffic jams — are we not? Everyone went with a different level of understanding in regards to the demonstration.

I went for many reasons, but one that champions them all would be my parents. My parents do not agree with my participation in such “sensitive issues”, just like all parents do. “You will get hurt,” they say. And I did. But I know from their tone that they are secretly proud of me.

A friend texted me “Fearless!” after finding out that I was at Dataran Merdeka at noon. No, I was fearful. I fear for my country being unsafe for my loved ones to stay in; I fear that my parents will not be able to wait for proper healthcare when needed, I fear that my younger sister will become propagated rather than educated in school, I fear my generation of youth now will “grow up” to be mid-life boys and girls, I fear if Malaysian working culture has no ethics and I will be exploited, I fear that our representatives in Parliament prioritise foreign investments more than it does us, and I fear that people will “be okay” about benefiting from another’s loss.

The demonstration on Saturday turned sour, but the eight Bersih demands for clean and fair election are not refusable. We need change in the system for the betterment of our socio-economic well-being as a nation. Before I started to walk from KLCC towards Dataran Merdeka, a foreigner asked me: “What is the relevance of fancy tourist attractions (he referred to the Petronas Twin Towers) if people are subject to the travesty of justice?”

Good question. — loyarburok.com

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

 

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