Malaysiakini Letter

Bersih 3.0: Was it worth it?

Tan Zhong Yan
Published:  |  Modified:

I was there together with my dad and his friends. We entered Kuala Lumpur the night before the historic day and stayed in a hotel somewhere in Pudu as we were afraid that we might not be able to get in into Kuala Lumpur on that day.

The next morning, (April 28), we went for breakfast in one of the coffee shops nearby. From there, everything started.

It looked like most of the people having breakfast in that coffee shop were going for that sit-in demonstration, just like us.

We started to greet one another, chat and take photos like we knew each other. After that from Pudu we started to march to Jalan Sultan and then towards Dataran Merdeka.

The crowd got bigger and bigger as we walked. Slogans were chanted, but not in a tense manner as slogans were always followed by laughter.

Many of my friends asked why I want to go and ‘waste' my time there as I'll be having my exams in less than two weeks time and the fact that the government might not even care and listen to us.

There was also a great risk that I might get arrested or get hit by teargas and water cannons.

I just would like to say that it's not about whether the government listens to us or not, but what we as Malaysians do for our country.

All of us, or at least most of us, feel that there are problems with our electoral system. The term ‘phantom voters' is not something that is unfamiliar with us anymore.

We criticise the government here and there every day, from Facebook to coffee shops but we never take any action to improve it.

Of course, I agree that taking the matter to streets may not be a good thing but that is the only way left to us and it is the clearest way to convey our message to the government that we are taking it seriously and that we want clean, free and fair elections!

For me, it's totally not a waste of time if by doing so, reforms can be done. Even if it is not, it is still worth it as I think we had successfully conveyed our message to the government.

I had actually not wasted or lost anything but I eventually gained a lot from that. I am a 1st year undergraduate law student and Public Law is one of my subjects.

In Public Law, I study about the constitution, rule of law, separation of powers, electoral system, civil liberties and etc. And as I said, I'm having my exams in less than two weeks time.

By participating the Bersih 3.0 demonstration, I actually learnt a lot and it is sort of a quick revision for me, revising the whole subject of Public Law in just a day or perhaps just a few hours which I have studied for a year.

I even jokingly told with my friends that I'm there applying what I have studied as application is very important for us as law students.

One thing that I have realised from the demonstration is that theory is always different from practice. It's quite disappointing, as what is stated in those thick textbooks of mine, seems to be not applicable in real life or maybe in Malaysia.

But of course, looking on the bright side, it is good that I realise all this now.

Another thing that I gained is that I saw and felt the love and unity among we Malaysians. Race, religion, gender and age are not a barrier at all for us.

The moment where everyone sang the national anthem ‘Negaraku' together, my tears nearly fell. I never had this feeling before though I have sung ‘Negaraku' for so many years especially when I was in school.

However, of course it is quite regrettable that violence occurred during the demonstration.

We should condemn the protesters and police who have acted violently. We should stop all violence and together make this beloved country into one which is civilised and democratic.

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