JAN 13 — How do you describe the feeling of being part of a historic moment in time? You can’t, you just have to be there. You can ooh and ahh over all the Instantgram and Utube downloads, but nothing absolutely nothing beats being there in person, to be counted as one of the thousands upon thousands who turned up for KL 112 Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally.
By the time my gang of 3 not-so-young aunties alighted from the LRT station at Pasar Seni at about 11 plus, the streets were already packed with people of all races and ages clad mostly in yellow and green, with bright splashes of some in orange and red. To their credit, police personnel stood around unobstrusively though watchfully. Kudos also to the Unit Amal folks who managed crowd control as best they could. As we finished lunch, the crowd had swelled noticeably, all moving steadily towards Stadium Merdeka. Mercifully the sky was overcast with clouds, offering some welcome shade from the heat of the afternoon sun. It even drizzled a little but the heavens held up as people streamed into the open-air stadium.
I thought we were early but by the time we got in, the stands were already 3/4 full with a huge crowd gathered on the centre field itself. The whole thing was like some mammoth family carnival, with colourful teams waving flags, banners and placards; the atmosphere noisy with the loud intermittent blaring of vuvuzelas ….And the crowd simply grew and grew and grew. It was an amazing sight from where we were seated on the stands — a vast colourful ocean of people as far and beyond what the eye could see. Apparently there was another sea of people milling about outside the stadium grounds. Doesn’t matter what’s the final count — even that one picture on a main-line newspaper’s front-page said it all…
When the MC called for us to stand, my heart swelled with pride as I joined in with thousands of voices to sing Negara-Ku. This was different from all the previous Bersih rallies I had attended. Then it was about 1 issue. Now I was part of something so much bigger….truly a people’s movement, gathered as we were by choice, pulled by the same desire to see a better Malaysia. Not only were the numbers unprecedented; I think this must go down as a first in Malaysian history that the people themselves willingly ‘paid’ to participate in a rally! Just 1 appeal through the loud-speakers was enough to have ordinary folks digging into pockets and wallets to contribute their hard-earned cash for the rally expenses. Talk about generosity of spirit…as I hear it, in some quarters, it’s the other way round – people have to be ‘paid’ to make up the crowd!
Even as each representative took the mike to pitch about their particular cause, what struck me weren’t the polemics or politics, but the shared sentiment that there are many who care enough to make and take a stand as concerned citizens of this land. The grievances may differ but the message was clear — after more than half a century, ordinary people are no longer willing to take things lying down but are risen to take back the power to determine the destiny of our future. I liked what 1 speaker said- that today is the day we no longer see the person in front, beside or behind us as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or any particular race, today we see each other as Malaysian.
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Kuala Lumpur’s mammoth rally yesterday has revived Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) push to capture Putrajaya from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) which has used a combination of policy and handouts to claw back support, say political analysts.
The analysts told The Malaysian Insider that PR’s ability to organise up to 100,000 for the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat gathering and the crowd’s interest in the issues being discussed will make the general election a close battle for both coalitions. PR have estimated that close to 500,000 turned up for the rally at the iconic Stadium Merdeka but police said the crowd was, at the most, 45,000.
“Regardless of the actual crowd numbers, aerial photographs emerging from the event show a very large crowd, which reflects on the opposition and civil society’s ability to mobilise the public,” Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim Suffian noted.
“But apart from showcasing the capability of organisers, it also shows the enthusiasm and energy of the forces opposing the government, underlining the fact that the coming polls contest will no doubt be the toughest that the ruling coalition will face in its history,” he added.
Centre for Policy Initiatives director Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the rally was a “clear-cut victory” for both the opposition and civil society, citing the massive turnout, the disciplined behaviour of participants and the “formidable” consensus shown by all parties in opposing Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rule.
“All these indicators will strike dismay in BN,” he said.
But Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) political analyst Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff expressed a slightly different view.
“When such a big rally is not disturbed and goes on so peacefully, why then did it not attract the one-million supporters as promised by Pakatan?” he asked.
In the run-up to the event, rally organisers had estimated attendance at a whopping one million people, although the seating capacity at Stadium Merdeka is only 30,000.
The gathering, which saw people dressed in T-shirts in a rainbow of colours to denote various causes, was organised by both political leaders from PR and non-partisan members of various civil society groups as a final showcase of their demands before the 13th general election is called by June.
“So one impact from this event is that we cannot always believe what these parties tell us. They always boast figures.
“Sometimes, they should just be realistic. You cannot promise something that is beyond your reach… you will just give false hope,” Agus said.
But on a more positive note, the professor said the smooth running of the rally, possibly the largest public gathering yet in years, should be marked as a milestone in the growth of democracy in Malaysia.
He said scenes of the carnival-like atmosphere as rally-goers of all race and backgrounds came together for a cause was enough to reduce a person to tears.
“It made everyone so happy to get the permit. It shows that we, Malaysians, can now express our rights in a peaceful way. This is what democracy is,” he said.
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally yesterday was proof that a peaceful assembly is possible when the authorities agree to facilitate such events instead of clamping down on them, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today.
Expressing relief that the rally ended without violence, commission chief Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said in a statement here that he hoped the positive outcome will continue to enhance the understanding among all parties on their role in ensuring peaceful conduct during such events.
This, he said, could even lead to further relaxation of existing restrictions.
“It is with great relief and satisfaction that the commission welcomes the successful convening of the “Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat” peaceful rally held at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur and in Kota Kinabalu,” the commissioner said in the statement.
“This clearly demonstrates that given the necessary spirit of goodwill and accommodation amongst the parties concerned the democratic right of peaceful assembly can take place in the country, contrary to the views of sceptics.”
Hasmy singled out the police for what he described as a “display of professionalism” and commended the top leadership of the Royal Malaysian Police for its wisdom in handling the mammoth event.
He also praised the event organisers for their orderly conduct.
“The commission is also heartened by the cooperative manner demonstrated by both the police and rally organisers in their effort as regards crowd control and dispersal during the rally that aimed to avoid any untoward incidents and arrest,” he said.
Di dataran sejarah suara kita sesubur rumput,
bisik kalbu bergaung garang tanpa resah tanpa takut.
Lagu kita rindu demokrasi darjat awan tertinggi
mengindah ufuk senja merai kemerdekaan diri.
Rumput di kaki, awan di kepala, gah iringi murba,
seramainya, sederapnya, setulusnya, kita bersama
menjulang panji negara, bangga dicium angin jati
di tengah gelora kita sebangsa dan sejiwa murni.
Di atas padang sejarah pantang kita mungkiri janji
setiap tapak dan langkah mengisi rindu demokrasi.
Diri kita amat padu maruah senandung setulus hati
melunturkan wewarna zalim, menyuburkan kuning berseri.
Kita—tenaga jati—gah berjuang demi keadilan;
Dan kita terbang sederas sinar julang panji kebenaran.
KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, made up of PAS, PKR and DAP, has made a 10-point demand to the government and topping the list is for the government to ensure free and fair elections.
Pakatan made its demands known at the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat, attended by some 100,000 opposition supporters, at the historic Stadium Merdeka here today.
The list of demands was announced by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution at the rally.
“If we come to power we would change the course of the government, away from corruption and race-based policies and politics. No Malaysian would be pushed aside. We will also move in tandem with each other for a better life,” he said when presenting the demands.
Apart from wanting free and fair elections, Pakatan also wants the administration of Felda to be reviewed.
“We also demand that all Malaysians including those from Sabah and Sarawak be given equal treatment. We demand that all oil-producing states are given 20% of the oil royalty.
“We also want all government servants to be professional in the administration of the country,” he added.
Pakatan also wants the government to provide a healthy living environment to all Malaysians.
“The government should preserve Bahasa Malaysia while the usage of English should be upgraded. The government should also provide free education for all Malaysians,” said Saifuddin.
Pakatan also wants all political prisoners freed.
“We also want the government to preserve our tradition, culture and heritage. We demand a better life for all Malaysians,” he said.