Anwar Ibrahim tweeted on the morning after the [disappointing 2013] election, ‘Wear black.’ The party leadership decided to organise a gathering in the Petaling Jaya Stadium [in my constituency]. I liaised with the state and local authorities to book the stadium as well as inform the police on the same day about what eventually came to be known as the ‘Blackout 505 Rally’.
Previously, whenever I organised ‘ceramahs’ or rallies, I would get one of my staff to write a letter to inform the police about the event, as required by the law. This was to minimise my risk should the police take action. But I knew that this time it would be different, and I took the responsibility of writing to the police in my own name.
More than 100,000 Malaysians came to the rally that night. People filled the football field, as well as the terraces, to the brink. Nearby, at the Paradigm shopping mall, black t-shirts ran out at many retail shops as customers were looking for something black to wear at the stadium. It came to a point that the toll to the North Klang Valley Expressway was jammed with the volume of traffic and cars parked by the roadside. People walked for kilometres in the rain to show their support, but I also had friends and family caught in the jam who complained to me about it!
In my speech, I said that the call for change transcended race, as opposed to what then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and Umno were arguing. The annoying part was that since the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, the vuvuzela had made an appearance in Malaysian political rallies and protests as well; it can be a struggle to get your voice heard above all the noise!
As expected, the next day I received a...