Here are 2 differing views on peaceful demonstration/street protest. Pls do read both and write in your comments. I am thinking of writing an advert with regards to this issue and would like to hear from you.
Why do Malaysians march?
Yeo Yang Poh (The Sun, 3 Aug 2009)
WHY march, when the government has said that it will review the Internal Security Act? Why march, when there are other very cosy ways of giving your views and feedback?
One would understand if these were questions posed by nine-year-olds. But they are not. They are questions posed by the prime minister of this nation we call our home. Answer we must. So, why?
Because thousands who died while in detention cannot march or speak any more. That is why others have to do it for them. Because persons in the corridors of power, persons who have amassed tremendous wealth and live in mansions, and persons who are in the position to right wrongs but won’t, continue to rule our nation with suffocating might. And they certainly would not march. They would prevent others from marching.
Because the have-nots, the sidelined, the oppressed, the discriminated and the persecuted have no effective line to the powerful. Because the nice ways have been tried ad nauseam for decades, but have fallen on deaf ears. Because none of the major recommendations of Suhakam (including on peaceful assembly), or of the commissions of inquiry, has been implemented.
Because the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is not in sight, while corruption and insecurity live in every neighbourhood; and (despite reasoned views expressed ever so nicely in opposition) Rela (people’s volunteer corps) is being brought in to make matters even worse. The proponents in “Su Qiu” (remember them?) were not marchers. In fact it is hard to find nicer ways than “su qiu”, because the term means “present and request” or “inform and request”. In terms of putting forward a view or a request, it is the height of politeness.
Yet they were labelled “extremists” – they who did not march. And now you ask, why march? Because you gave non-marchers a false name! You called them the “silent majority”, who by virtue of their silence (so you proudly argued with twisted logic) were supporters of government policies since they were not vocal in raising objections.
You claimed to be protecting the interest of the “silent majority”. Now some of them do not want to be silent anymore, and you are asking why? Yes, because double standards and hypocrisy cannot be covered up or explained away forever; and incompetence cannot be indefinitely propped up by depleting resources.
Because cronyism can only take care of a few people, and the rest will eventually wake up to realise the repeated lies that things were done in certain ways purportedly “for their benefit”. Because the race card, cleverly played for such a long time, is beginning to be seen for what it really is – a despicable tool to divide the rakyat for easier political manipulation.
Because it does not take much to figure out that there is no good reason why Malaysia, a country with abundant human resources and rich natural resources, does not have a standard of living many times higher than that of Singapore, an island state with no natural resources and that has to import human resources from Malaysia and elsewhere. Because, in general, countries that do not persecute marchers are prosperous or are improving from their previous state of affairs, and those that do are declining.
Because Gandhi marched, Mandela marched, Martin Luther King marched, and Tunku Abdul Rahman marched. Because more and more people realise that peaceful assemblies are no threat at all to the security of the nation, although they are a threat to the security of tenure of the ruling elite.
Because politicians do not mean it when they say with a straight face or a smile that they are the servants and that the people are the masters. No servant would treat his master with tear gas, batons and handcuffs. Because if the marchers in history had been stopped in their tracks, places like India, Malaysia and many others would still be colonies today, apartheid would still be thriving in South Africa, Nelson Mandela would still be scribbling on the walls of Cell 5, and Obama would probably be a slave somewhere in Mississippi plotting to make his next midnight dash for the river.
And because liberty, freedom and dignity are not free vouchers posted out to each household. They do not come to those who just sit and wait. They have to be fought for, and gained. And if you still want to ask: why march; I can go on and on until the last tree is felled. But I shall obviously not. I will end with the following lines from one of the songs sung in the 1960s by civil rights marchers in the US, without whom Obama would not be able to even sit with the whites in a bus, let alone reside in the White House:
“It isn’t nice to block the doorway It isn’t nice to go to jail There are nicer ways to do it But the nice ways have all failed It isn’t nice; it isn’t nice You’ve told us once, you’ve told us twice But if that’s freedom’s price We don’t mind ...”
(Yeo Yang Poh is a former Bar Council president.)
Because they did not care?
MP Goh ( Aug 5th 2009, The Sun)
IN “Why do Malaysians march?” (Comment, Aug 3) Yeo Yang Poh provides an interesting account of why Malaysians march. His views are even more amusing bearing in mind that he is a lawyer, more so a previous president of the Bar Council. Yes, why do Malaysians march?
Let me provide an account from a different perspective. Those who marched, did so because they did not care about the inconvenience caused to the thousands of motorists.
Because those who marched did not care that being a Saturday, thousands of Malaysians and tourists would be running errands, shopping or just enjoying the camaraderie of family and friends. Because those who marched did not care about the possibility of an ambulance desperately weaving its way through the traffic to reach a dying man.
Because those who marched did not care about the discomfort caused to senior citizens who were trapped in traffic in the blistering heat. Because those who marched did not care about the children who would have been at the receiving end of the chaos and disarray.
Because those who marched did not care about the millions of ringgit that traders had lost as a result of the closure of shops and businesses. Because those who marched did not care about the anxiety caused to that pregnant woman who, in labour, was on the way to the hospital. Because those who marched did not care about the thousands of schoolchildren who were late in attending Saturday school or that they were stuck in the traffic as late as 7pm.
Because those who marched courted arrest to be venerated as martyrs. Because those who marched did it for the sake of the publicity. After all, how else were they able to get their five minutes of fame. And bear in mind that leaders of other marches in the last two years were conferred awards and titles. So maybe, just maybe, this was one way of obtaining a few accolades.
Because those who marched knew that it was an action that would attract a reaction from the police and yes, that was what they wanted. After all, how else could they carry on demonising the police and enforcement authorities. Most newspapers carried stories about how high-handed the police were. Yet many missed the point. Who caused the police to react that way?
Because those who marched were ignorant. Are all the marchers aware of the provisions of the Internal Security Act? Because those who marched thought it was fashionable to do so. After all, the government did say that it was planning to review the provisions of the ISA. Yet the marchers marched. Because those who marched had to keep up with the Joneses.
Like Yeo said, they do it in India, Africa and even in the US. Everyone is doing it, so it must be right – let’s march! Because those who marched preferred to go along the destructive route. Because those who march were gullible – influenced by certain quarters who had their own purposes to serve. Because those who marched think that it is the leitmotif of the majority in Malaysia .
Yes, Yeo draws analogies to Africa and the US. Singapore, however, is conspicuously missing – a country that shares similar demography, legislative history and to a certain extent, culture. Love him or hate him, Singapore is what it is today – a successful nation because of the philosophy and vision of Lee Kuan Yew.
nd this is what the octogenarian has to say: “You’re talking about Rwanda or Bangladesh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines. They’ve got democracy, according to Freedom House. But have you got a civilised life to lead? People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.” (The Man and his Ideas)
Apocryphal or not, there is definitely a grain of truth to it. Yeo, your reasons may be dulcet notes to the leftists but like many others who crave peace and harmony in society, I subscribe to a different view. The one lesson learned from Saturday’s episode is that, the marchers showed us why the ISA should remain.
MP GOH (THE SUN, august 5th 2009)