Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Bersih Story

So many people have written articles on their first hand account of Bersih 3.0. I was struggling inside me for days contemplating whether or not I should pen down my personal experience. I have tweeted how I was absent during Bersih 1.0 – I was still a very ignorant Malaysian back then. When Bersih 2.0 happened, I had just given birth to my first child and was on maternity leave. I was at home praying for a peaceful rally and that my husband, my dad and my brother would come home safely from the rally. Bersih 3.0 - I was there for the very first time together with my husband, my assistants, sister, cousin, brother-in-law, former schoolmates from SM Subang Utama, former employer, my father-in-law, friends and some residents. Many were there for the very first time. Many are NOT members of any political parties - and that’s a very good sign that truly the civil society has awakened!

When we got to the KTM station in Subang Jaya, there were many others who were waiting for the train in their yellow t-shirts.

When the train arrived from Klang and Batu Tiga, it was already packed with many Bersih supporters. Some clapped as the train stopped to pick up more Bersih supporters. I was like a little sardine fish inside the train.

When we arrived at the Kuala Lumpur station, I saw train after train brought in hundreds of other Bersih supporters.

When we got to Jalan Petaling, I was shocked to see so many young people have already gathered. The theme was “Duduk Bantah”. One of my assistants has often been teased to have obsessive compulsive disorder. As a housewife and chief-of-staff, she would never stop cleaning. On 428, she had no problem sitting on the street. Other friends were proud of her. Some schoolmates of mine hate to be under the hot sun. On 428, they stood for hours in the hot sun. And that was the message I received from so many others, they were willing to put aside their personal preferences and habits to send a strong message to the Barisan Nasional-led government – they want clean and fair elections.

When we got to Jalan Tun Perak, it was so crowded I was literally rubbing sweaty shoulders and arms with others. Some recognised me and I conceded taking photographs despite looking fatigued. By then, we had been standing on our feet for almost 5 hours.

When I got closer to the Masjid Jamek station, I saw Datuk Ambiga addressing the people but I was on the opposite side of the road and I could not hear the speech. The crowd then starting moving forward towards Dataran Merdeka. The next thing I saw were hands going up in front of me signalling to the rest of us to turn back and run. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of a stampede. Considering it was my first Bersih rally and after listening to horror stories of police brutality during Bersih 2.0, I decided to hold on to a lamp post. Yes you heard correctly. I was glued to a lamp post! My husband pulled me away and we started running into a back lane. I then realised that the police had shot tear gas at us and there were hundreds of people escaping into the back lane with teary eyes. I saw Malaysians of all races sharing salt, water and towels. At the end of the back lane, there were others running towards us, tear gas were being shot from the other direction too. We were cornered. It was chaotic. By then, I was coughing terribly and had difficulty breathing. Again, I did the unimaginable - I was sprawled over a parked car. I simply could not breathe! My friend Peter saw me and dragged me away from the car. A group of us managed to seek shelter inside a budget hotel nearby.

On the sixth floor of the hotel, an elderly Malay couple offered their room for us to wash our face. There were young people there who shared their packed food with us. It felt like post-war. Malaysians came together. Sadly we were not running away from war enemies, we were running away from our own police force even though we had gathered in peace to demand for clean and fair elections.

I condemn any form of violence that has taken place be it against the civilians, the journalists or the police. To me, the tear gas felt very deadly. To be cornered into a tiny alley with tear gas coming from both directions had left me in a very undignified position to the extent my husband could not recognise it was me that was sprawled over a car.

If the tear gas had such an effect on me, I cannot imagine how dangerous it was for senior citizens and for those with asthma. Bersih 3.0 wasn’t about Anwar-Azmin, even though the BN regime wants to pin all the blame on the both of them for the unruly behaviour of some. I have been to huge political and church rallies but I have never seen a crowd like that on 428. The testimonies of some 250,000 Malaysians at home, in the office, in mosques, in churches, in temples or in colleges cannot be discounted no matter how hard the BN-led government tries. If you had been on the streets of KL that day, you would know that no amount of censorship on Astro or spinning in the mainstream media can stop the testimonies of those who were present. And their Bersih stories will continue to pour in.


Uncle Bugs said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

This is the biggest gathering in the history of our country. Never, have you seen so many people converging in one place to express our concern. The message is very clear. That we want to take what is belonged us. That is to have a clean and fair election.

Bugs Tan

Eskay, SJ said...

Dear YB

I have no words to describe the stupidity of whoever gave BN the advice to attack the protesters, and worse, attacking the press. And of course, the same stupidity for those who follow the advice.

Bersih 3.0 was indeed the best opportunity for BN to do their PR work by showing Malaysians / the whole world how good a democratic country Malaysia is, and if they would have done the right thing, they could actually claim this credit as their effort if they so wish :D . However they have spoilt everything with their own hands.

Malaysians especially for us who have participated must not be distracted to other issues, we need to recognize the success of this rally, and continue to support Bersih should the situation needs us to hold another rally, until the government stops denying and do what’s necessary for a fair and clean election for a better Malaysia.

Eskay, SJ

LION GIRL said...

Thanks for sharing. Guess my experience was very mild compared with yours!

Take care n MTFBWU !

Chan, Yan Hoong said...

Dear Hannah,

Thank you for sharing your experience. Glad that you made it safely. God bless. Perubahan di tangan kita.

safarisurfer said...

Thank you so much for sharing, truly you are an inspiration to all Malaysians, especially us young people! May God bless all your effort and may it not be in vain. Thanks so much for trying to make a difference for us; the generations to come. :)(:

seowqj said...

I am from Penang. Penang is great and peaceful. Glad to hear your story and proud of you.

You are great representative of people, keep it up.

God is with you, who can be against you; to be with the people and served them, you have done well in the eyes of God. Continue your good work....

Prophetess Cassandra said...

Shalom YB Hannah Yeoh,

I have read your blog about involvement in Bersih 3.O on April 28th. My prayer for you as the Lord called you as a representative and mother to Subang Jaya :-
May our Father in heaven pour out his wisdom and guidance for the next election, like Daniel was in lion den and still alive and walk out with victory, believe that God is always with you when you put Him 1st and seek His face. I pray that God will shine through not only a representative for people but also a evangelist to many not believers to bring them to kingdom of God.

In writing this to you, I will attached one of my blog written about "Anti-corruption, Malaysia BOLEH".

Prophetess Cassandra said...

Shalom YB Hannah Yeoh,
Although I am not a politician or interested in political issue, but a Malaysian who love this country very much, I am pray for righteousness of God to prevail in this land and as a child of God, we love people because Jesus love us 1st and died for us while we are still a sinner, I am glad that you have boldly stand up for Malaysians. I pray that God will continue to lead you by His wisdom and guidance and may the good, rightful afford which you have devoted to this country will not be in vain.

May God bless you and your loved one abundantly, and shine for the Lord in whatever He has called and anointed you to do, in Jesus name I prayed, AMEN.