MAY 1 — I won't be writing about police brutality or aggressive protestors. Instead I am going to share with you what an eye opener Bersih 3.0 had been.
I thought I was just going for a rally to stand up, or in this case, sit down for my rights. I, like many other Malaysians, am very unhappy with the government or at least how things are being run. I complain about it to my friends and vent it out online like a true keyboard warrior.
So when I heard that there will be a Bersih 3.0, I decided to be more proactive and go for it. I didn't want to be one of those that complains day in and day out yet too scared or really just can't be arsed to do something about it. Basically, if I was going to talk the talk, I should walk the walk.
You should know that this is my first time ever attending a protest. I've only read or seen videos about it. Needless to say I was excited. Thanks to my excitement that brought on my research I attended Bersih 3.0 well equipped.
My friends and I gathered at Masjid Jamek/Jalan Tun Perak area. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this rally but in my naive little mind, I was hoping for some action.
When we arrived there were already quite a number of people on the streets. People from all walks of life; varying in age, gender and race were there. The atmosphere was filled with excitement and everyone seemed to be happy. Everyone was polite to one another, everyone was gathered for the same cause. We chanted, we sang, we just had fun.
Bersih 3.0 is not associated with any political parties but of course there are parties who tries to take advantage of the situation and insert their political views into things. For example; while a fellow was leading a chant, we all repeat after him when in regards with "Bersih" and "Hidup Rakyat" and some people chose not to chant after him when he brought up BN (Barisan Nasional). It really goes to show that a lot of the supporters were not there due to any political ties but there in hoping that the upcoming General Election will be a fair one.
After a while, we decided to make our way to Dataran Merdeka. When we got there, the place was jam packed. We made our way through the crowd, trying to get as close to the front as possible. The sun was scorching, there was no cloud in the sky. It was hot, everyone was sweating and it's a little hard to breathe. You'd think that because of this, people will get agitated and rude but instead they weren't.
There was no pushing or shoving, yes it was packed but at the same time it seem other protesters tried to give you space. When the PDRM started the water cannon, everyone in front was yelling for us to "Undur" and once the tear gas was fired it got chaotic. Everyone was running and trying to get as far away as possible. Regardless of that, nobody tried to push past us, no one was rough, there was no shoving.
A man was yelling "Wanita dan kanak2 dulu", others were shouting asking for people not to panic or run. Our biggest fear was a stampede and it seems everyone went out of their way to prevent that. My friend saw a lady fall and instead of being trampled over, people rushed to get her on her feet.
All of us were scared but none of us were selfish. We tried to help each other. We shared our water supply, when someone was down others would rush and made sure he/she was okay. There were men passing out salt, telling people what to do with it and others were passing out surgical masks to people. There was no "Me first" but instead all for one and one for all.
Later, more tear gas followed and people again were yelling asking everyone to run. I saw men trying to get others out of harm’s way, warning them and making sure no one was loitering around when more tear gas came. We ran to a back alley and there were innocent vendors there and yet they continue firing in the tear gas.
There was a disabled beggar on the ground and some guys moved him to the sidewalk so he wouldn't be trampled by scared protestors. My friend attended to him, gave him water, a surgical mask and made sure he was alright.
Some stayed back to pass on water and salt. We all stood there helping each other. Along the road as we walked, we continued seeing people lending other a hand. Cars and motorbike honking, showing support.
You all know what it's like being Malaysian. We constantly bring up race, we have stereotypes for each race. We all scoff and mock at the idea of 1Malaysia. In general we know we're all somewhat racist.
Here's the thing though, at that moment, no one was. You see a Malay guy helping a Chinese guy, a Chinese lady offering an Indian man water, a group of mixed race Malaysians gathered together discussing where to go and what to do. We were all united. There were no separation between us. We were all MALAYSIANS and most importantly, we were all human.
I learned so much that day, this experience truly was an eye opener. Right now as I sit down and think about the events of the day, I was mindblown to see Malaysians united, helping each other and not giving a damn about who or what you are. Something that seem impossible became possible. It was enlightening to see people being selfless, seeing kind souls going out of their way to ensure other fellow human beings were okay.
Instead of focusing on the negative things that has happened in Bersih 3.0, why not focus on the positive? For starters it brought together "25,000" Malaysians from all walks of life. All whom stood together happily and peacefully. It shows how truly united Malaysians are.
It showed the government how many of us are unsatisfied at how they're running the country, it also shows how many of us are willing to stand up for our rights. We showed the government that it's time they listen up. It showed us that we don't have to care what another's race or political ideology is, we just are united by one thing; fairness from the government. Fairness in the upcoming and all future election.
That is what all we want and that is why we all assembled that day, not just in KL but all over the country and all over the world. We want BERSIH.
On the 28th of April 2012 after witnessing how kind and wonderful Malaysians are, I have hope for the country again. For the first time, I can truly say that I am proud to be Malaysian. So thank you, fellow Malaysians, for giving me that.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.