Loyal Followers

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Let’s heal this nation

I wasn’t there on Saturday.

I was however constantly checking out the progress of the BERSIH sit-in through various social-media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook as well as some websites which provided updates from time to time.

In the morning it was like one huge festival. It was like the Rio carnival (without the samba, of course). I saw people converging, talking to each other, singing, walking around and taking pictures. I could also see police officers standing guard, looking at possible trouble-makers, talking to each other and manning their respective post.

There was an air of optimism. There were heart-warming moments, captured on camera, of people handing flowers and balloons to police officers, while their colleague looked on with amusement. There were people asking to pose with police officers and the latter obliged with a smile.

All these pictures of  festivities – grudging as they might be -  moved me to twit in the late morning, “Police acting with considerable restraint so far. The people are not the enemy. Syabas.” I tagged PDRMsia to that twit.

I have written about unity before. I have postulated that national unity exists on two levels, namely, situational unity and what I call the transcendental unity. And I was thinking, the Bersih rally, at least in the hours before 2pm on 28th April 2012, is a perfect example of what I had termed as situational unity.

When the people have one purpose in mind, they would instinctively move as one towards achieving that on e purpose. They would suffer hardship, readily go through inconvenience and sacrifice time and money to move together for that one purpose. And they would stand side by side with complete strangers, regardless of breed and creed; regardless of race and religion in the pursuit of that one purpose.

That is my theory in Dear Brother Anas. And the Bersih rally proves just that.

Events however took a turn for worse just after noon. Some rally goers broke the barricade and encroached on Dataran Merdeka. Suddenly the police and the Federal Reserve Unit started using the water cannon and tear gas. And all hell broke loose.

In a way – and I am speaking as a third party here, as I wasn’t there to have a first-hand experience – it could have been the result of a miscommunication, a non-communication even.

I do not know whether there was sufficient publicity about what would constitute the “bantah” itself; what would constitute the end of the rally and what the rally goers were supposed to do after it all ended.

It was all a bit of a confusion. The plan was to have a sit-in at – or rather, on – Dataran Merdeka. The authorities were having none of that. They obtained a Court order against that. They then set out barriers, barricades, barbed wires and razor barricades around Dataran Merdeka.

Then there was a statement by the police saying that the people will be allowed to converge at several meeting points as planned by Bersih. However, the statement also said that the police were going to take action if the people start moving towards Dataran Merdeka. Then there was a statement by Bersih’s Dato’ Ambiga saying that Bersih will comply with the Court order by not occupying Dataran Merdeka.

So what was the exact plan? Meet at the meeting points. And then what?

At a certain point of time, I read about Dato’ Ambiga addressing the crowd and declared the rally a success. She then asked the rally goers to disperse. Where did this take place? I do not know. And how many from the crowd managed to listen to or hear her request to disperse? I do not know.

All that we know is that the rally did not end even after that request by Dato’ Ambiga. There was a group of people who breached the barricade. According to an interview given by a friend of mine, Fahri Azzat, he was about 100 metres away from the barricade.

He saw a float consisting of the opposition leaders. Then he heard people saying “get in get in, it’s open” or something to that effect. He did not know what that meant although it was in his mind that perhaps the barricades had been removed. Then the police charged.

His interview is here.

I saw many video on YouTube. And many pictures posted on the internet.

Many of them are downright disturbing. There was a video of some people smashing a police car at a junction. There was another video showing a police car (probably the same police car which was being smashed) along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman being driven into a crowd at Sogo. Then there were shouts that somebody was underneath that car and people were upturning the car although at the end of it, I could not see anybody under that car.

There was also a disturbing video of a group of policemen, all in uniform, assaulting a man who was arrested at a t-junction. That was painful to watch, to say the least. In addition, there were numerous accounts of post-arrest assaults.

Then on Twitter, there were twits of the person allegedly rammed by a police car (probably the police car in the video which I described earlier) had died. Then there were twits about a police gun having been snatched.

Quite surreal I must add was a twit saying the police gun was later recovered. I mean, how negligent can a police officer be to lose his gun. And how dumb the gun snatcher was to let that gun be recovered afterward?

The most disturbing twits which I had read later was the rumour that not one, but two policemen had died!

I shook my head in total disbelief at the crass nature of some of the statements made from both sides of the fence. At the sheer irresponsibility of it all. All in the name of expression.

In the middle of it all, I asked myself, what has happened to all of us, the people and the authorities? Have we abandoned reason and rationality? What has happened to humanity? Are we all so caught up with our perceived struggle and functions so much so that we are no more brothers and sisters of the same nation?

My optimism quickly swallowed by a sea of shocking acts of crime, I descended into a state of shock and disbelief. My twit reflected how I felt. At the end of it, I twitted, “I weep for this nation.”

Yesterday was Sunday. And this morning I have not recovered from my bout of depression.

I am trying to avoid reading any kind of news about Bersih. However, I know for sure that the blame game will start, if it hadn’t started in the first place.

The government will blame the opposition. The opposition will blame the government. There will be one side who blames the police for all the mayhem. The police will in turn blame the rally goers for being rowdy. Everything under the sun will start blaming Venus, the moon and Mars except for themselves.

Deputy Minister Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah has reportedly said that the Bersih event had shown a nation angry and divided.

I say, apart from that, the Bersih rally reveals a nation which is not at ease with her people and on the other hand , a people which is suspicious of their nation. It shows that at times, all of us could lose our head and descend into some kind of a contagious sickness.

I just pray that soon, all of us would regain our collective consciousness; regain our rationality and reasonableness; regain that missing piece of humanity. And then perhaps we would sit down, with a cup of coffee in hand, and ponder whether we would want to continue with our waywardness.

Or whether we would want to heal this nation; get back on our feet and move forward as one people with one purpose.

In unity.


clangan said...

This is the 3rd Bersih Rally, and I am in awe that the PM is still at his best doing his misdeeds!!! I am sure his popularity ratings has fallen a couple of notches! Stupid PM!

imantulen said...


I weep for the police, as they have lost all respect accorded to them as the protector of the nation's people....

Monyet King said...

Brilliant. Love this piece

Anonymous said...

My depression over the nation began in the early 1990's when I realized my 3 young children were not getting a 'decent' education in premier schools in KL. At work, the depression worsened having to swallow silly instructions from unqualified bosses who made up their own rules, much to the detriment of the politically-own organization. I quit in the millennium -early to repair what the education system couldn't prepare my teenage children for in their adulthood - and to heal myself of that depression. I am a child of Merdeka and now I walk with Bersih to ensure my children and within a few years, their's, will hopefully get to savour the unbridled breeze of freedom of just being. There are many like myself and my siblings who are not Malay but our children are. And our multicultural family will remain united as Malaysians.

flychart services said...


I was there chatting with policemen across the barricade and Anwar was 10 feet away. Actually the barricade was set up to invite the crowd to breach it and give the policemen to excuse to whack and tear gas the people.

siewchinteo said...

the people on the ground are indeed united against corruption, bad governance.
we need politicians who are worthy but good decent people never enter into politics, right Fahri, Art? :-)

Anonymous said...

The nation is angry but not divided. The power hungry despots try to do the divide and conquer trick. God help this nation!

siewchinteo said...

but of course people on the ground are united against corruption and bad governance.
we need politicians who are worthy but good people do not go into politics right Fahri? Art? :-)

Anonymous said...


'..the Bersih rally reveals a nation which is not at ease with her people and on the other hand , a people which is suspicious of their nation. It shows that at times, all of us could lose our head and descend into some kind of a contagious sickness.'


Ain't u confusing the govt of the day with nation?

Govt comes & go While the nation stays.

Perhaps, u meant;

'the Bersih rally reveals a GOVT which is not at ease with her people and on the other hand , a people which is suspicious of their GOVT.'

It shows that at ALL times, the govt of the day has lose her head and descend into some kind of a self-inflicted sickness.


Antares said...

Healing and reconciliation are only possible when the massive crimes committed by incumbent leaders against their own rakyat are openly acknowledged, sincerely rectified, amends made, and an utterly corrupt and morally bankrupt regime replaced. Under the British, the police force was trained to spy on the people - because the colonial authorities neither loved nor trusted them. How could they, as agents of a rapacious and hypocritical imperial power, truly respect and honor the citizens? Your sentiments are noble, Art, but weep for all the human souls that have been corrupted and robotized in the name of insatiable greed and powerlust.

cin2tan said...

'BERSIH' ....suddenly has disappeared in my Kamus !

'BERSIN' ...I sneezed & woke up from my snap ...oops maaf ...nap !!

rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rob said...

I watched couple of videos. one a testimony by the 71 year old lady who is full of spirit in spite of been beaten by the police and her witnessing others been beaten.

she said she will make a police report and make sure those who beat her up the proper treatment. she said that she is only one but will drag a few down with her. battling words indeed.

however she is still optimistic of the nation.

i saw the t-junction video. the police acted like in a wild mob. i do not know how they can be protector if they can switch into this sort of mode. scary. don't know whether we can heal this. why?

healing will not be easy. change of the government should it happen will not be easy. but change we must as the current one is incapable of reforming themselves.


elizabeth said...

I chickened out of bersih 2 when the government declared it illegal. I stayed home, out of fear. After reading the courageous account of those who were at Bersih 2, I vowed to not bow down to my own fear. Came Bersih 3, I was determined from day 1 that I would attend. I resigned to the possibility that I will be arrested, may lose my job because I work at a GLC, and I drew comfort that because I am in my 50s, a woman, I will be spared the beatings even if I am arrested. Reading the many accounts tell me that I will not be spared if I am caught. I will not allow the police brutality to stop me or to suppress me. Bersih 4 if there is one, I will be there. They can crush my body, but they cannot crush my spirit.

Anonymous said...

" ... the Bersih rally reveals a nation which is not at ease with her people and on the other hand , a people which is suspicious of their nation ... "

Do you mean "government" not at ease with people and vice versa?

The nation is at ease, if you see the rakyat at Bersih. It was a carnival!!!

Shila said...

I WAS there on Saturday. I can give first hand evidence of what I saw and what happened to me. So can the tens of thousand others who were there at different points.

There was AMPLE publicity and NO confusion on my part and all who I know who attended, as to the choice of meeting points and the aim- To walk to Dataran Merdeka and hope to be allowed to sit there (or as near as possible) from 2-4pm.

I can confirm that where I was near top of Jln Tun Perak( but Im too short to see past the 100 metre crowd in front of me) there was festive optimism from 10 am til I heard the first shots fired.

Therafter , I was a sardine crushed amongst thousands all trying not to panic whille retreating, coughing,choking, face and eyes stinging. Not being able to take out salt or towel because we were all crushed together. To my shock horror I heard more shots fired near us and more smoke. People could not help but move faster and the ripple effect nearly caused us to fall. I am told some were injured in this way. I felt a sharp sense of betrayal.. We WERE RETREATING! It seemed like we were being punished for daring to come at all!

Before the first shots , when I heard the cheers I and those around me thought we were being allowed in! It is entirely possible that some of those few hundred, who moved forward were not aware of the barrier being breached and thought someone has come to their senses and can see how the world would ridicule the barricade of an empty public field! To then be shot with tear gas, water cannoned and aggressively arrested , measures that should only be used for people burning buildings, massive gang fighting,barging into high security zones etc. I cringe at the world watching this.

I only knew of Ambiga's call to disperse much much later -how could you expect the tens of thosands to disperse when most of them who were not in her vicinity could not hear the call and , like me might have thought the event would finish as published at 4pm?

Each criminal act by civilians or police that can be proved by sufficient evidence should beproperly investigated and challenged separately and not use one video or incident to tarnish the whole event.

I prosecuted for the UK's Crown Prosecution Service for several years and for the Trafalgar riots, it took some months for large teams of police and lawyers to sift evidence and assess hundreds of cases some individually and some jointly. Both civilians and police officers were charged . And in all cases judges took into account mitigating factors when sentencing, including where some civilians felt betrayed when witnessing police brutality on retreating civilians, and retaliated through overwhelming emotions that they did not control. These claims of course had to be supported by evidence. So the video evidence and credible witness evidence of the overturning of the police car should be carefully viewed. The fact that there was no one under the car does not automatically mean that the persons who did it did not honestly believe there was a person there! I have seen a video on it and it shows before the car was overturned ,people desperately trying to look under the car but appeared to be unable to because the tyres were blown!

I cant say the same for the person seen to be jumping on the police car (at a point Im unsure of) It looks incriminating but I cannot pronounce on it again all evidence needs to be thoroughly reviewed and any possible innocent explanation discounted.

I agree with your call for healing and rationality and hope that your reference to" waywardness" is not misinterpreted by some to refer to the thousands who attended this rally because they wanted to sit in a field they thought belonged to all of us. It seems you have to be Nestle in order to have that privilige.

Jonathan lee kuan said...

Art you should have been there. No words can describe the carnival atmosphere. I was there. I was a peaceful participant. I did not abuse the cops or shouted derogatory words. My frens we were laughing and squeezed with hardly breathing space as we walked at snail pace towards DM for a symbolic walk by.
Then the pong was heard, the tear gas came. We got gassed, we got hurt, the government meant to hurt us, we are hurt...And they are still blaming us? See the rest at www.yah-meh.blogspot.com

Disgusted-Citizen said...

Dataran Merdeka should not have been barricaded in the first place! Protecting an empty space? A public spot?

Which Government in their right mind would "protect" an empty public space from its citizen? Doesnt it show that the BN-UMNO regime had planned to brutalise the Bersih 3 participants all along? Even if the barricade was brought down...What crime had been commited?

Why does entering Dataran Merdeka suddenly becomes a criminal act and warrants the use of water cannon and police brutality? Why should a court order be issued not allowing the Rakyat to use the Dataran Merdeka for a peaceful sit in rally?

Under the guise of "court order" and "law" The despotic goverment is legitimizing its brutality and violence on its own CITIZENS!

Down with this BN-UMNO regime!

Anonymous said...

What is there to heal ? We love each other and hundreds of thousands on the street 428 can be my witness. But we are human, when violence is used against us for no apparent reason and we are pushed to a corner some of us will not just hold our heads and get mercilessly beaten like dogs by the police posted online. It's the present government that doesn't like to see this unity among the rakyat. Bersih 4.0 we will fight injustice once more while u can stay home and continue to write on your blog.

art harun said...

Hi Anonymous @ 1 May 2012 14:18 and @ 1 May 2012 21:48,

I normally used the phrase nation-state to connote the powers that be. In retrospect, I think the word "nation" was a bad choice of word. My bad.

Thank you all for reading this and taking the trouble to leave comment.

Anonymous said...

And [remember] when Satan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, "No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector." But when the two armies sighted each other, he turned on his heels and said, "Indeed, I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah . And Allah is severe in penalty."

Anonymous said...

mentri dalam -rumah : aiyah, polis
ganasan hanya 0.01 % saja lah .... @#$%^&* !!

Red Alfa said...


The nation is in pain and will remain so until the cause of pain is removed. Only then the healing will begin.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of this present government and things will change for the better for all Malaysians and the Nation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Art, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Think it's great - i share your sentiments.
Hope many more Malaysians could regain that missing piece of conscience, reasonableness and humanity, and work together to build up this nation.

Faith Healer said...

Dear friend I must commend you on your altruism and sense of humanity. You are right we must all come together for the nation. You are right that we should heal the nation that we should heal the world.. know that song? Heal the world..make it a better place..by MJ

So sad but MJ himself was discriminated in white america.jacko the whacko is just one name for him. MJ wanted to heal the world. But the world was not his. It belongs to the whites who has no reason to accept him or his wealth. Negros were their slaves just decades ago.

My point is that, you wanting to heal the nation must explain who is creating the fissure in the society? Who is creating the obscene gap in wealth, RM400 million CASH for Mokhzani son of Mahathir by Malay owned investment bank Maybank Investment today, while other Malays received RM500 once in 50 years! Or has to toil in Felda to receive 15K.

Who is creating the fissure by cutting down virgin Borneo forests in Sabah and Sarawak to plant oil palm for profits killing orang utan at the same time?

Who is polluting the rivers with development of properties to be sold to rich Singaporean and Hong Kong Chinese?

Who is bringing in 4 million!! yes 4 million immigrant to work in the low technology factories or restaurants at slave salary that no Malaysians would take?

Who? Do they care about your heal the nation thing? It was the Malays youth who kicked their own Malays police. Unthinkable but this is due to disconnect between the have and the have nots. Between those who live in gated housing and those struggling to make a living.

Why? because wages are kept low by bringing in Mumbai slum dogs to work in Chinese factories and oil palm plantation owned by IOI giant and Indian restaurants.

After you find out why then only you can heal it.. so chow... will get back again.. for more thought provoking discussions..

Kaki Monkey said...

None of this would have happened.

All we had to do was obey the government in Unity and this would never have happened. Life would be beautiful and UMNO/BN forever !

In actual fact Malaysia should have been a population of orangutans and we would be so happy together.

There would be no need to know if anything is unfair or inhuman, since we would be all orangutans. No law would be bad and there would be no need to disobey any bad law.

The strongest orangutan would steal his neighbor's mate and make her his maid. And everybody will have the new king orangutan.

Then one day, while the king orangutan was sleeping, his babies were playing all over him. One tugged at his face and it came off.

The baby orangutan was shocked its father was a human man !!! :)) [end of story]