The Great Clean-Up
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
FOR the past week or more the whole of the Klang Valley has been quavering with excitement, fear, anger, frustration and maybe a little despair.People have been arrested. Threats have been issued by both government and normally level-headed Malaysians. Balai Polis stores are bulging at the seams from overstocking of bright yellow t-shirts which everybody wants but cannot have. After all they’re perfectly good shirts. 100% cotton some more.
But the Home Minister has declared that the t-shirts are illegal. Although he never said under which law he was declaring the t’s illegal. But of course this is Malaysia and the Home Minister, or any minister for that matter, never needs to really explain his/her actions. To anybody. “You gave us the mandate ma. So you just relax. We do everything for you. Sure good one okay?”
Anyway, the reason for all the buzz happening the past few days is a march. Some call it a rally. Others a demonstration. And still others an attempt to topple the government. And some overly dramatic ones insist on it being a war against the King! Which I think it is a bit severe la. Still some others say it is a civil society movement that’s been hijacked by political highwaymen. Which is something worth thinking about. Anyway…
By the time you read this more people might have been put in jail. Either for wearing yellow t-shirts or for walking along a certain route on a certain day. Or just simply for wanting to say something in some way that will be heard by someone.
Pessimists say that after the march/rally/demonstration/whatever life in Malaysia will be changed forever. For better or worse. Optimists say that a lot of Malaysians in the Klang Valley are just going to end up with too much food stocked up in the larder. And that life in Malaysia will be changed forever. For the better.
Whatever happens, as I write this a week away from the BIG Yellow day, the buzz, at least in the Klang Valley, is all about the big Clean. But elsewhere, my Penang cousin just emailed to ask why so many people have changed their profile photo in Facebook to yellow. And my old school chum in Ipoh is wondering why he’s been advised to postpone his trip to visit his family in KL to a later date.
And even in the Klang Valley I dare say that quite a few of us are losing track of what the big day is about. No? Yeah we all know about the eight demands made of the Elections Commission. All very good. As things should be in a democratic country. Especially after that big screw-up over in Borneo when our Prime Minister openly offered the electorate millions IF they voted for his candidate.
And of course we have heard the jokes about general elections being good for members of the rakyat who have lost loved ones to the netherworld because these departed souls get resurrected. At least on election days. And none of the demands made are political in nature.
So the confusion sets in when political parties and personalities begin to claim ownership of the event. Just as much as the government has caused widespread concern about the safety and security of the event, this political hijacking has caused many Malaysians to be a little wary about the blurred objectives of the event.
In any case, it is a confusing time. Are we not conforming to the law which clearly states that freedom of assembly is our right as citizens of Malaysia? If so, why is the government reacting the way they are? The latest news is that even the Yang DiPertuan Agung, our beloved King, has come out and said that the rally will cause more bad than good.
Why ah? All we the people want to do is to be heard. So we have eight demands which we want to hand over to the King at his palace. So just accept and look into the demands la. What is so bad about that? And so far all the violence seems to be done by the authorities. Threats, arrests and strong words calculated to intimidate the citizens of the country who are just trying to exercise their basic right enshrined in the Constitution. If that also cannot, then what good is the Constitution?
And as I finish this column I read that the organisers have said that they will try and get an audience with the King and then abide by whatever decision His Majesty makes. Also the Prime Minister has announced that the rally will be allowed to take place in a stadium. Aiyoh! This is soooo confusing la.
But one thing is sure. Both Najib and his cousin have helped to popularise the rally to an extent which I am sure the organisers themselves have not dared to hope for. And I suppose for that we all owe a debt of gratitude to the YBs.
So whatever happens or doesn’t happen this weekend, Malaysians have proven a point. We are not apathetic. We love our country. We want to be involved in its development. Hidup Malaysia!
Now they have decided to accept the Prime Minister’s offer and rally in a stadium and stay off the streets, after an audience with the King. A lot of people, especially wives and mothers, are heaving huge sighs of relief chorused by all the shopkeepers and taxi drivers who have been belly-aching about the loss of income and whatnot.
But that also raises more questions. So now will the Home Minister and the police issue a permit to allow it to happen? Then if they do, it will raise another question about why it has suddenly become UN-illegal. And will all those flers who were arrested be able to sue for wrongful arrest?
And now somebody will probably want to start another rally to CLEAN up that mess. Woo hoo! What a wonderful country we live in.
And I have managed to write this whole thing without mentioning the name of this thing that we are not supposed to talk about. Good and CLEAN leh. Good hor? Wait a minute…after this audience with the Agong and the agreement to move the rally into a stadium can we mention the word now? And wear yellow t-shirts again? Hiyoh! Confused la.