JAN 12 — Tens of thousands of Malaysians gathered today at Stadium Merdeka. Contrary to what the Minister of Home Affairs would like to believe, there was no unrest, no chaos and no violence which would go down in history to yet again mark this day with the likes of earlier demonstrations in the city.
The police were not required to assemble in thousands in the city. They did not have to stand in line in the sun up against their own fellow Malaysians. The water cannons didn't have to be used. Not only that, there were no arrests. There was no makeshift police station specifically set up to house the thousands of people arrested. There was no need for the police to send out teams of investigating officers who would need to work tirelessly taking down statements from all those arrested.
There was also no need for lawyers to be lined up outside these stations all night waiting for access to those detained. There was no need for the families of those detained to worry about their safety not knowing their whereabouts or what was to happen to them next.
There were no incidents in which anyone was injured. There was no overturning of cars, no scenes of persons being shot at by water canons or running in fear or being chased or beaten by the police.
There were no scenes of people, old or young, drenched with chemically laced water, with their eyes swollen, having difficulties breathing. There were no reported incidents of people dying on the streets.
All in all there are no news reports published to the rest of the world wherein we the people of Malaysia are depicted as criminals who run riot in our own country in need of attack from our own police.
There were no scenes of drenched streets, closed businesses and destruction of public property.
It wouldn't be out of place to say that today, we the Malaysian people proved the Home Minister and his government wrong. We proved to him and the rest of the world, that we are peace-loving and that we are mature enough to hold demonstrations peacefully in our own country.
This is a serious embarrassment both nationally and internationally for Home Minister, Dato Seri Hishamuddin Hussein. And it is evidence of the fact that the government has all along underestimated the capabilities of us Malaysians and has failed to change with the times. It has failed to recognise that Malaysia has indeed changed and is in further need of change in particular with regard to government mindset.
The government was convinced that we Malaysians were a rowdy lot, that we wanted unrest and that the sole purpose of gatherings of this nature was to overthrow it with the use of force. It failed to listen to us and to accept our demands to gather peacefully as guaranteed under the constitution.
Despite the threats, violence, persecutions and even loss of life, Malaysians nevertheless pushed on with the reform agenda and today proved Hishamuddin and Barisan Nasional wrong.
Hishamuddin must be a man. He must accept that he has been sorely wrong, that what he put Malaysians through in the previous gatherings were totally unnecessary, a total waste of public funds and an unnecessary use of force and violence upon us.
Hishamuddin's handling of the previous gathering also put Malaysia in extremely bad light in terms of international publicity.
He must now apologise to all Malaysians and step down honorably as Minister of Home Affairs. He has not only failed us. He has, to my mind, also failed Malaysia.
* Gobind Singh Deo is the MP for Puchong.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.