"Why I Will Walk On July 9"

Not so long ago, I would have supported the objective of Bersih 2.0 purely on principle. The eight points are noble, idealistic, and perfectly reasonable. I work on Saturdays. It is the busiest day of my working week, and one that I enjoy tremendously. Only 10 days ago, I would have been a silent supporter of the eight points of the memorandum.

I still don’t understand what danger lies in those eight points. I would have gone to work, got on with my day, and perhaps expect to read in the news, and at some stage a press release along the lines of “we have taken the points into consideration…”, without really expecting much.

Personally, agreeing to the use of indelible ink alone would have been a more than acceptable first step for me. I fully expected the opposition to jump onto the Bersih bandwagon. What else would they do? I expected the government to accuse the opposition parties of doing so – because that is what political parties do, they politicise.

And I fully expected certain NGOs to come out with their usual rhetoric, ranting against all sorts of things with accusations that completely boggle the mind.

I am not political, although I am a voter – I vote because it is my civic duty; I vote because I can; I vote because there are millions of people in the world who would dearly love the opportunity to be able to turn up to a polling booth and make their voice heard; and, if nothing else, voting gives me the right to whinge about things I do not approve of.

Bersih Rally in 2007

I do not support either side of the political divide. I personally believe both sides waste a lot of time trying to gain political mileage through petty and immature politicking. But that’s what politicians do. So I ignore or laugh at the nonsense and simply try to get on with life in the most positive way I can. Having said that, I do acknowledge there are voices of reason and sincerity on both sides of the political divide.

I believe that real change comes from civil society. I believe that we behave better towards each other than some delinquents in the Dewan Rakyat. I believe in keeping my faith in basic human decency. I believe it is entirely possible to disagree with someone without resorting to name-calling and threats of violence. I believe that if I want to see certain changes, I must begin with myself.

Has the Bersih rally been politicised? Of course it has, by both sides. Does that invalidate the eight points? Absolutely not. Rallies or demonstrations are not the Malaysian way? Rubbish. Since history is to be a compulsory pass for SPM, I suggest certain people brush up on this subject and see what a fallacy this claim is. Besides, the last time I checked, we were still a democracy – or did something change while I wasn’t looking?

To think, had this rally been allowed, had it even been supported by members of BN – oh, there were so many different options you could have chosen in response, and it’s still not too late – the Bersih 2.0 rally could have been a peaceful non-event. People like myself would have gone on with our usual Saturday routines, lending our support in principle only.

Anwar Ibrahim addressing the crowd during the Bersih Rally in 2007

Am I afraid? Yes, I am. Do I think things could get ugly? Yes, I do. But I also have faith in my fellow Malaysians that they will try to keep things as peaceful as possible. I have faith that we Malaysians are not as divided as some would have us believe. If my faith is wrong, let it be proven wrong by fact, not by fear.

I would have happily gone to work on July 9 and quietly wished Bersih all the best if not for the completely disproportionate response by the government (arrests, raids, threats, etc.), not to mention the ridiculous accusations of “illegality” among other threats that are completely illegitimate and nonsensical.

It is not the Bersih organisers who have made it increasingly unpalatable for me, who force my conscience, who fill me with such depths of disbelief and disgust, who have pushed too far with fear-mongering that I can no longer sit and lend my support in principle only.

Is exercising a democratic right in a democratic country now illegal?

(Taken from Free Malaysia Today)


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