Bersih 4.0 ended peacefully. There were many faces of first timers which is comforting. However, to a participant who has gone through several Bersih rallies, Bersih 4.0 seemed to have changed. There was no more the feeling of closeness among Chinese, Malays, Indians and other races like before. Many people noticed that there were less Malay participants in the last rally. Many Chinese attributed this to the lack of support from PAS. They also said as UMNO and PAS are at the brink of breaking up, the Malays felt threatened, and worried about losing their political dominance. As such, they showed no interest in Bersih 4.0.
Do the Malays prefer to live in a corrupt and backward country just to keep their political advantage? Is PAS so influential among urban Malays that they have become the deciding factor? Without the verification of a thorough opinion poll, all these are mere speculations.
Nonetheless, Bersih 4.0 is a wake-up call and we are surprised that the Malays have begun to change. Politicians have their own schemes and calculations. We, as ordinary folks, are helpless in the face of the Pakatan and Barisan crisis. However, As Chinese participants of Bersih 4.0, shouldn’t we do some self-examination as regards to the absence of Malays? Frankly, after taking part in the two-day rally, it left me feeling a bit shameful.
BERSIH PARTICIPANTS INFLICTING INSULTS
First of all, many young participants had been very “creative” in inflicting insults to Najib and Rosmah. The most common display was by using a toy knife or hand gesture in chopping off the head of a toy chicken. The more obscene gesture was poking the backside of the chicken. There were also people who pasted Najib’s picture with joss papers to imply that he’s a blood-sucker. Some of them were holding placards carrying crude and insulting words. Others were stomping on Najib and Rosmah’s pictures.
We Chinese used to regard ourselves as victims. When UMNO leaders raised the keris at an UMNO meeting, we felt hurt and threatened as if our dignity had been shredded. However, when we used such a crude and barbaric gesture of chicken slaughtering, have we ever thought of the feelings of the Malays? To the Malays, no matter how much they dislike Najib, he is still a Malay and one of them. It is only human that people will defend their own kind. Sex blogger Alvin Tan had done a lot of stupid things which the Chinese disagreed with but when other races screamed to whack and kill him, many Chinese also found it difficult to tolerate.
CHINESE PARTICIPANTS LACK OF RELIGIOUS SENSITIVITY
Malays respect their elders and are loyal to their leaders. No matter how bad Najib is, he is their elder and a national leader. Of course, they follow him. When the Chinese openly insult their elder and national leader, how can they earn the respect of the Malays? To paste joss papers on Najib’s picture is a total lack of religious sensitivity. We all know the Malays are religious people and why should we do such a thing to make the Muslims angry.
Participants of Bersih 4.0 should understand that it was not a rowdy gathering to vent their emotions. It was a gathering to apply pressure on the government and also to gauge public opinion. We should maintain a good image in local and foreign media but more importantly, we should win the support of other races. Other people may be cold to politics or be lack of political awareness. As they have been brainwashed by Utusan, they are confused as to what is right and what is wrong as well as who is right and who is wrong. And thus, they hesitated.
But at this juncture, the action of every Bersih 4.0 participant would determine whether other races would support Bersih 4.0’s demand and even influence their voting in the next general election. Therefore, every Bersih 4.0 participant was a Bersih image ambassador.
Because of the above reasons, there is no harm to use English and Bahasa as the main language on our banners or placards for the rally. We may love our mother tongue, but English would be more effective in conveying our message. If we want to sway our Malay brethrens, is there any alternative but use Bahasa which we are familiar with?
When Barisan-controlled English and Malay newspapers are playing up the poor Malay participation and describing the rally as a Chinese plot to seize power, can we ourselves do something? Can we at least defuse the racial elements by posting pictures taken with other races besides those taken of our own selves?
PARTICIPATING JUST TO EARN PRAISES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Some friends are upset and worried that Bersih 4.0 have turned into a carnival. Some criticised certain participants were there just to earn some praises. I have not much comment whether the street protest have turned into a carnival or not. Anyway, the success of a rally should not be dependent on being sad or somber. Making it a happy event would certainly attract a bigger crowd. I believe that some first-timers may be eager to join Bersih 5, 6, or 7 because they find that their life was not threatened and the experience was fine.
My only hope is that the Chinese would interact more with the strangers around them, the Malays and Indians who were less in number. Many would find it uncomfortable to be in an environment where 90 percent of the people belong to another race. There is no harm stretching out our hands of friendship and warm up to them which may dispel the stereotype misconception by the Malays that the Chinese are arrogant and selfish.