Bersih—And The Purpose Was...
This was my first time. Honestly, last year I was sure of not going. I was constantly thinking of tear gas, water cannons, and being on the run. This year however, I wasn’t fazed about it at all. The opportunity was just sitting there, and it was pretty simple. All I had to do was hop onto the LRT at Kelana Jaya and head down to Pasar Seni.
True enough, the journey was not a problem at all, the same probably goes for thousands of others who made their way downtown this Saturday afternoon. Which brings me to speak about the real dilemma constantly surging through my head the day before — what would be my real purpose of attending this rally? Why this time? Is it because it’s going to be bigger? Would I be merely a tourist, snap a few photos for Facebook and say I was there? Am I going to come back and just talk about how I’ve experienced the agony of breathing in tear gas?
Would I really be rallying for the cause to call for clean elections?
Quick background check: I’m from a great family, dad has a fair-paying job, all our needs are supported, my education paid for, plus many other privileges and blessings. I will be furthering my studies next year, I could choose to continue staying overseas, and forget about even voting. As a student who has no significant income of my own, I haven’t been significantly cheated by the government. It would be pretty logical to say that I, personally, am not affected at all whether or not a corrupt government was taking the leadership of this country. I could be among those who complain that this rally and all the attendees ruined my otherwise beautiful Saturday, due to all the roadblocks and shops closed. I could call it foolish, a waste of time. I could be ignorant.
But that would be quite selfish of me, no?
Whether or not a corrupt government directly affects me, corruption is wrong. Misusing the citizens’ taxes is wrong. Putting their own interests and profits above the nation’s well-being is wrong. Dirty tactics to win the general elections is wrong, whichever party it may be. Lying is wrong.
It wasn’t about scrutinizing every detail of all the dirty things the government has done, for me it was simply a question of right and wrong. I must admit I am not well-versed with political issues, but politics isn’t the issue here. It is my moral duty to go against what’s wrong. It is my right to stand up against what’s wrong. I will be there to add to the number of those fighting for justice, and to be there for those who have true intentions as well, but couldn’t be present. I will be there for those who will be staying on in this country for all the many more years to come.
Even while my eyes and lungs burned from the tear gas, I felt a deep warmth seeing all Malaysians looking out for one another, handing out water bottles and salt packets, tending to each others' wounds while we were all cornered and trapped in Masjid Jamek. On the other hand, my heart cries out for those who went for hype, for mere sensation, for those whose purpose was to ‘experience’, and those swayed by political reasons. My heart aches for those who sparked violence. Change is needed not just in terms of electoral reform, but also in terms of our mindsets. A wake up call. I can damn well say that, because I know my perspective and mindset have been changed.
I have been feeling restless after today’s events. I have a feeling it will stay that way, until I know for sure that sometime in the future our nation can finally rest, in the hands of responsible leaders — whether or not my current location is still this place I call home. Seeing that I will be gone for a while from next year onwards, this was an opportunity where I could do my part being a citizen of this country, on home ground. I’m glad I took that opportunity. And with joy I applaud everyone who supported this cause with sincere hearts, wherever they are, and in whatever way they did.
I know I was born in Malaysia for a reason, and the same goes for every Malaysian. This is our people, our nation, our Malaysia.