I am wearing yellow tomorrow. Thousands of other Malaysians are wearing yellow tomorrow. We have yellow badges in our profile pictures in Facebook and Twitter. Call this the yellow fight.
Tomorrow, July 9, is the day when thousands of Malaysians from all over the country will congregate in Kuala Lumpur and march for electoral reforms in Malaysia. This march, named Bersih 2.0, is the people’s way of telling the government that we have had enough of the corruption the electoral process is riddled with. Yellow is the color theme of the event as it represents royalty.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said on last Wednesday that anyone caught wearing t-shirts containing messages in support of Bersih will be detained. While the government can stop us from wearing Bersih t-shirts, they cannot stop us from inserting yellow Bersih badges in our profile pictures and posting them in our Facebooks and Twitters to show support for the Bersih movement. As of today, more than 50,000 people are using these Bersih badges in their Facebooks and Twitter. It is impossible for the police to detain everyone who uses this yellow badge in social media.
Bersih is a Malay word which translated to English means clean. The first Bersih rally was held on November 10, 2007 and around 30,000 to 50,000 people attended the rally. The police broke up the rally by firing tear gas and chemical-laced water cannons at the people. This year, the police have warned us that they will use a hard hand against all Bersih supporters. There is hardly any doubt in our minds about that.
The government and police have been telling us that Bersih is an illegal organization. What they failed to note is that Bersih is comprised of 62 non-governmental organizations. All 62 organizations are registered and legal.
The government and police have been using the mainstream media to propagate anti-Bersih sentiments. What they fail to note is that many Malaysians have turned to alternative news media. These alternative news media report happenings not reported in the mainstream media, including the Bersih side of the story.
Come tomorrow, we will stand together for our rights. Our rights which are slowly being taken away by the government. We are standing together so that our future generations will have a better life under a government that respects our requests. We are standing together because we are sick and tired of surpression and dirty politics.
We are reminded of German theologian Martin Niemoller’s statement:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
In conclusion, despite all the government harrassment and intimidation, we will not be cowed. Fifty years from today, we do not want to regret that we did not try to fight for electoral reforms. We will try, even if it costs us a lot.
Image Description: A scene from the 2007 Bersih rally. The ralliers are dressed in yellow. They are facing the Federal Reserve Unit and riot police. Wearing maroon and standing in between the ralliers and riot police are volunteers from the Jabatan Amal Unit. Image credit: Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams