I am certain that 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.
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 in Malay, the biggest ever rally organised by the opposition parties and NGOs.
This rally represents an opportunity and a platform for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition party to boost the morale of its supporters as it sought to build momentum towards the coming GE13—the general election that is being tipped as the most closely contested in Malaysia’s history—to defeat the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition party that has been in power since independence in 1957.
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.
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.
The massive anti-BN rally then culminated in the chanting of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s historic “Merdeka!” by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The exact seven times. At the same venue. Imagine that.
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.”
“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 seven 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 of government. The people can no longer tolerate the endemic corruption and abuse of power. 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!
I therefore hope all Malaysian voters give PR a chance, so that the people’s voices will be heard and justice will be served. 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 corruption and cronyism that pushes our country close to failed state status. And I believe PR can address these issues. Perhaps it is this “deafness” of BN government that has contributed to the rise of numerous 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 move made by the Election Commission which has allegedly been pro-UMNO/BN. We must strictly not allow any 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 Malaysians.
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’s transformasi. I sincerely hope that PR can takeover Putrajaya in this coming GE13. And I believe giving 5 years for the opposition PR coalition to govern is much better than giving the ruling BN coalition another 5 more 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 better accountability and governance, and wish to fulfill their 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.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Malaysian political parties. The material contained in this article may include facts, views, opinions and recommendations which the writer does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of information. Under no circumstances will the writer be liable for any liability for any act (or decision not to act), use, misuse or distribution resulting from use of this material.