Merdeka Rakyat

I am certain that I remember UMNO was etched into our Sejarah books in high school as the political party which helped free Malaysia from British colonialists 55 years ago, an achievement which it has up until now never stopped reminding the rakyat about.

At least 100,000 people flocked to an iconic stadium in Kuala Lumpur where independence was declared in 1957 during the People’s Uprising Rally on 12 January 2013.

Now, the Stadium Merdeka, where the declaration of Independence was made in 1957 by UMNO’s second president Tunku Abdul Rahman, once again was flocked with hundreds of thousands. On 12 January 2013, it hosted yet another historical milestone. It was the site of the People’s Uprising Rally or Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (HKR) in Malay, the biggest ever rally organised by the opposition parties and NGOs. This rally, represents an opportunity and platform for the Pakatan Rakyat coalition to boost the morale of its supporters as it sought to build momentum towards the coming GE13, which is being tipped as the most closely contested in Malaysia that has been ruled by the Barisan Nasional-led coalition party since independence in 1957.

Protestors march towards the historical Stadium Merdeka during People’s Uprising Rally in Kuala Lumpur with placards and flags bearing logos of rights groups and political parties.
(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

The protestors were dressed in yellow, green, red and other colours, each representing a rights group advocating causes that ranging from Bersih movement fighting for clean electoral roll, environmental rights, fair royalty payments to oil-producing states to the abolishment of higher education student loan. They held placards and flags bearing logos of rights groups and political parties.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks during the People’s Uprising Rally at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition Leader, promised to improve people’s livelihood, reduce the cost of living such as lowering the price of petrol and providing free tertiary education by abolishing the study loans. And even our national laureate, A. Samad Said read out some of his work to a cheering crowd.

One thing I find ironic after watching the video above is: A massive anti-BN rally is being capped off by chanting “merdeka” by Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition Leader, imitating Tunku Abdul Rahman, our Bapa Kemerdekaan at the same venue which UMNO/BN played a major role in their legacy after 55 years. Imagine that.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim shouts “merdeka”, followed by crowds responding with “rakyat” during a grand gathering at the historical Stadium Merdeka during #KL112 in Kuala Lumpur.
(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

From the video, Anwar said to the crowd,

“Dengan lafaz Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. Kita ulangi ikrar keramat kemerdekaan rakyat dengan izin Allah, seperti mana yang tertera, disuarakan and dilaungkan oleh bapak-bapak – ibu kita pada 31 Ogos 1957. Atas nama semua rakyat, semua negara dan semua suku kaum, kita ulangi ikrar itu, dan kali ini, merdeka yang sebenarnya merdeka rakyat.”

In English:

“Like how our forefathers cried out “Merdeka”, today we repeat that oath and this time, we will achieve genuine independence for the people.”

Each of 7 times Anwar chanted “merdeka”, the crowd responded with “rakyat”. And I literally had goosebumps watching that.

The people are now in rage. It is a spirit of the people voicing out, demanding change from the BN government to a fair one that fights for the rakyat. We can no longer tolerate bribery and robbery of the government in our country. A recent report from the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) even ranked Malaysia as the third highest country with cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2001 and 2010 after China and Mexico!

We lead the government; we tell them what we like or dislike and they should hold the responsibility to help us manage the country. But what did they do? They lie and steal from us, using police force to intimidate us like how FRU suppressed the Bersih rally by firing tear gas canisters and deploying water cannons right to the crowds. Where is democracy and justice in Malaysia? I literally don’t feel like being a Malaysian if I don’t make a stand on these issues even though I’m now studying overseas and I’m not eligible to vote in the coming GE13.

So please, I urge all Malaysian voters to give Pakatan Rakyat a chance, so that the people’s voices will become the actions of the ruler of this nation. I am a Malaysian who would like to see change for my dear country and see justice for all. We need liberalisation, including an independent judiciary and free press and media, to combat the endemic BN corruption and cronyism that pushes our country close to failed state status. And I believe PR can address these issues. Perhaps it was this “deafness” of BN government which may have also contributed to the rise of civil society movements—such as the oil royalty campaign, Himpunan Hijau movement and the Pengerang anti-oil refinery movement—whose supporters made up a significant portion of the participants at the rally.

Right now, we demand nothing less than a free and fair election. We shall be monitoring every suspicious and dubious moves made by the Election Commission which has been pro-UMNO/BN. We must strictly not allow phantom voters to hijack our future. All Malaysians who are registered voters must come out to vote in full force. This is our country and we want a government elected by true Malaysians.

Every dot counts, every voice counts, every person present counts, every vote counts – The rakyat decide the country’s future!
(AFP Pix)

Our country is heavily sick and it needs ubah for the federal government and the whole regime. We need a  real change—a reformasi, not BN transformasi. I sincerely hope that Pakatan Rakyat can takeover Putrajaya in this coming GE13. And I believe giving 5 years for the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat to govern Malaysia is better than giving the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional another 5 more grueling years. Just imagine, the UK is being governed by the same political party, say, Labour, for more than 50 successive years since 1957. Or the US by the Republican Party for the same continuous, unbroken period.

Ini kalilah. This time, the coming 13th Malaysian general election, which must be held by 27 June 2013 at the very latest, is an opportunity for the rakyat to break free “merdeka” from the monopoly of political power abused by the UMNO/BN cronies. Unless we don’t want a better and clean governance, and wish to fulfill their own lustful and corrupt desires. Unless we don’t want Malaysia to be better progressed—a real democracy with two-coalition system coming to reality which will definitely benefit us, the rakyat.

The views expressed in this article reflect my own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of any of the Malaysian political parties. The material contained in this article may include facts, views, opinions and recommendations which I do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of information. Under no circumstances will I be liable for any liability for any act (or decision not to act), use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material.


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