Following the seminal Arab Spring which has its roots in Tunisia in January 2011, and thanks to the power of the internet and the social networks media, concerned people around the world suddenly realise what a gathering mass of people,placard-bearing,chanting,marching and air-punching can do to bring about awareness to the others watching in real time from faraway through the internet and television. They convey powerful messages to politicians,kings and dictators of this world.
The simmering public anger over what is perceived as corporate greed, fraud and government-influencing by the wealthiest 1% of the population as opposed to the ordinary 99% boils over. The Occupy Movement at Wall Street, New York City first reported in September 2011 has gone global by the first week of October. People feel compelled to come out and express their feelings about what is happening around them that they want changing. The Arabs have done it and succeeded in Tunisia, Egypt and most recently Libya.
The power of the people is frightening. History has shown us that the French Revolution (1789), the Russian (Bolsheviks) (1917) and the Chinese (1949) revolutions are all about the uprising of the poor, the discontented and the oppressed against their respective governments and topple them they did.
The Occupy Movement is the peaceful approach to calling for a revolution, one which doesn’t cause literally a drop of blood. In this case, calling for government to formulate policies to reign in the power of the greedy and manipulative financiers whose activities had allegedly led to the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008 and Eurozone debt debacle in 2011 causing misery to million of people the world over. These are the likes of Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Brothers and Stanley Morgans. Fabulously wealthy,spectacularly failed and some are promptly bailed-out by the tax-payers.
The Americans,Europeans,Australians,Japanese and Taiwanese are into the Occupy Movement for a more responsible and accountable global financial system that safeguard the masses, the ordinary people.
I am amazed, delighted and inspired.
Now in Malaysia, her people also want to express their feelings about issues which concern them. Bersih 2.0, consisting of various racial and religious groups, was organised to create awareness of the need to reform election practices and clean-up the election rolls which are perceived to favour the government of the day. What’s wrong with that? And yet it encountered numerous obstacles because it was seen as an opposition parties’ day out. Permit to assemble and march was not given neither was a permit to hold it in a stadium despite assurances by PM Najib.
And so Bersih 2.0 demonstration became a spectacle of public confrontation with the police complete with water-cannons and tear gas being broadcast all over the world. As if it was not enough, those who wore yellow attires were hounded and arrested.
I am ashamed, sad and flabbergasted.
Today 22 October 2011, a large gathering called “Himpun Sejuta Umah” or gathering of one million faithfuls is being held in a stadium. The permit to hold the gathering is issued without any problem. The gathering is about preserving/strengthening the Muslim faith in the perceived onslaught of proselytizing by other religions. In multi-cultural Malaysia, this uni-religious gathering not for the purpose of obligatory Friday prayer is seen as divisive and threatening. It is reported that the organisers have also lined up some religious firebrands as its speakers to stir things up.
Why can’t the religious department prepare the standard sermon on preserving/strengthening the Muslim faith/fight apostasy and get it delivered by the Imams in all the mosques instead? There are three main reasons, firstly not all Muslim men regularly attend Friday prayer and secondly you are not supposed to be emotional in the House of God and there would be no TV broadcasting news on the gathering to reach larger audience.
By gathering in public they intentionally create unnecessary tension in this country. Do we need this show of numbers? Can Malaysia afford this disharmony?
I remain ashamed, sad and flabbergasted.