NO 2 eye ass egg

I want a change, a deep shock of the new world. And august was my answer. The ISA- protest in Sogo was an eye opener, not just about democracy, but about what I want to do in my life. I remember that day, 1st of August; my dad was tabbing closely to Anil Netto’s twitter and the twits were coming in like huge flood, they were so many personal accounts on the protest itself in several areas, especially in Masjid Jamek and Sogo. My dad was so eager to just join in the crowd. Usually I would just stay put at home, but for some reason, I thought, hey what the heck, I needed the workout anyway, my growing butt was getting lazier..

The truth is my curiosity on Malaysian politics is as intense as most young Malaysians, even since the March 2008 election. Prior to that, before the 1998 Anwar’s Reformasi, I was mere a young clueless high school kid, Dr. Mahathir was the idol of almost every kid in class, in every UPSR/PMR essay we used Dr. Mahathir as our exemplary reference; Anwar was totally unknown to us, except that he was once the acting PM for a week or something when Dr. Mahathir took his long needed vacation to some foreign country. I believed everything started to go south right after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Dr. Mahathir was considered the Hero of the Year for saving Malaysia. But before he can even savour his own victory, Anwar came out from the closet and spill all the rotten beans of our cameleon Dr. Mahathir. And that’s how all of the kids shifted their idol to Anwar.

On that day, me and my dad, went to the KTM and waited for the train. The Rawang station was actually the transmit port for protesters to came to KL. No wonder we saw unusual numbers of cars parked outside Rawang station. As usual, KTM never came on time. Worst was, there were 3 cancelled trains, and we were forced to wait for 1 hour. The train came with a huge crowd of people pushing themselves inside the train. I think the government can do a lot for Malaysia by just investing the tax payers’ money on building the best public transportation services to Malaysians. Instead of investing their wasted effort in demeaning the opposition and cracking any protests against government, why don’t they just use their best talents to ease the lives of Malaysians. The truth is, not many Malaysians are interested in politics, but they just can’t stand the bullies and the forced “eastern values” of the government, and that’s how the opposition got stronger day by day. A good road and public transportation service can garner the federal lots and lots of favourable votes from the people. No need to even demeaning the opposition.

Anyway, it’s at 4pm when we finally reached Station Bank Negara, already 2 hours passed by. If we used the North-South highway, we could have reached Ipoh by then. People from all walks of life were there, from the religious looking PAS supporters, random civilians, to independent journalists and not to forget confused Sogo shoppers. Police were everywhere, it was scary for me. My dad was like a tough nut, he just walked through those police pretended that he had nothing to do with all these protest thingy. The smell of acid water was very pungent, I thought to myself, before we came it must had been a huge rally going on. The traffic was strangely quiet, the police had block all roads linked to the city centre. I remembered there were huge queues of motorists on the road to KL, while me and my dad were in the train.

The Sogo Shopping Complex was shut out from inside, the plain clothes police was scolding people from coming in. Huge number of confused shoppers trying to figure it out what the hell was happening. We walked to the back of Sogo, and for a moment, there were a crowd of people that were getting bigger and bigger. Then out of no where, I saw a procession of protesters coming our way. The middle of the procession was a black ugly devilish looking monster creature thingy, paraded by a group of young protesters, whispery, there where shouts of “itu Najib!”… my bet is they depicted the devilish monster as Najib, for being the murderer of altantuya. I took some picture from afar. My crazy dad was like, “hey take the pic closer lah, don’t be afraid!” They walked swiftly and proudly, people were waiting for the Reformasi Chanting to happen.

Suddenly, the road became strangely silent, and out of no where people were running like mad cows and ducks towards us… I saw a visible red spot from afar; in my mind I said “OMG, it’s the FRU spray truck!!!” The FRU squad was doing their usual gimmick, posing their fearing tactic march and just looked terribly fierce. We all ran like headless chicken, some to Sogo, some to the side corners, some hide inside half covered coffee shops, while I just shielded myself on the side walk area. The spray truck came to our direction, and spray on all corners with tear gas and acid water. I was mixed with fear and courage, the people were so full of spirits, they all were expecting the government to pull the plug and yet again embarrassed themselves in front of the international community.

I was chocking heavily, the tear gas and acid water made my eyes very very red, I can’t breath properly, and I can imagine how the victims of Nazi’s concentrated camp gas chamber could had painfully inhaled their last breath before they perished. At this point, I lost my dad, he had gone running to other places hiding. Before the protest, he had warned me to take care myself at my own risk, and I don’t mind doing all that. A middle aged man kindly gave me salt, I was rather confused, then he put it in his mouth and I just followed him. I have no clue how and why, but the salt instantly got me back on track, I managed to breathe as usual. All Malaysians regardless of skin colour was there, all chocking with the acid water and tear gas. After the spray truck gone, we ran to the bas stand area next to Sogo. I saw a girl with her mother; her mom was terribly confused and was crying for people to help her daughter. The girl was all teary red, people where stuffing her mouth with salt. I felt so touched by the girl’s plight, her mom was like “what had we done wrong, why do you all spray these chemical stuff to my girl here…!!!” the ironic thing is, some of the police were also teary eyed and chocking, I believed they were caught off guard too, perhaps the FRU didn’t inform the police first hand before they did their shots. On the clear blue skies, I saw a helicopter hovering very low, spotting any possible protests. I can see very visible the pilots on the helicopter. A very surreal experience.

Before we could even took a rest, from the other corner, the spray truck were coming right behind us. Everybodywas so scared that we all ran like kena kejar anjing gile. I had totally lost my dad and was running side by side with a group of young protesters. The mother and the girl was caught off guard and just screaming like mad. Thank goodness, it was just water. The FRU was just having their own cruel fun with the people. At this moment of my life, I was actually expecting to get caught or something, no regrets. While me and those young protesters were already far from the crowd and we all sneaked inside Sogo through the car park. Those guys gave me some salt. It was cool for a moment to bond with them.

Inside the Sogo, so many people were there, mostly shoppers, they were being locked inside. I saw a lot of foreigners, mostly confused rich Middle Eastern shoppers. I made a call to my dad. He was ok, but he was outside unable to come inside… While I was talking to my ex bf, with my breath still tercungap-cungap, 2 policemen just came by surprised and dragged away a protester standing next to me. I was shocked; I mean they can easily drag a guy even inside Sogo.

I quicky changed my mood and pretend that I was just a confused Sogo Shopper. I went around the department store and just browse around the place. I saw shoppers sitting, wandering, and boringly waiting for the lock up to end. Then my dad came. He did an amazing james bond stunt and sneaked inside Sogo before the automatic gate closed completely. We had our tea break inside Sogo, as we were unable to go outside too. Around 6 pm, the entrance was opened, and my dad went to Pertama Complex to see his friend that also went to the protest. By now, everything had calmed down as usual, and the traffic police had opened the road to the city. We saw FRU trucks guarding certain roads and the police guarding the Bank Negara lrt station. We chatted with several people, some came as far as Kedah to join in the protests, I saw some from NGOs, some from opposition parties and some independent journalists. I think those independent journalists were cool, I mean you are paid to go to rallies and covering political news, that’s a well paid one for me. On the way home, as usual the KTM did the worst service they can for the commuters. We were packed inside like sardines, and the train arrived after 1 hour of patient waiting.

The next day, I went out with my American friends and just talked about politics in Malaysia. Most of them are very curious and interested with Malaysian politics, it’s unlike the American ones, it’s exciting, full of dramas and plots, any brilliant minds can make a box office movie out of it. The trouble with Malaysia is, we are so used to the feudalism mentality that the people have to obey those VVIP in ranks, from the federal gov, the state gov, the sultan/royalty, to individual political parties and kumpung tribes. My dream is to be like France or UK, where the government have to answer the people, and obey the people, instead the other way round. The sultan really is a puppet, sometimes I question their existence in Malaysia. They should just join tourism Malaysia to promote Malaysia.

I asked my American friends, what is the essence of being an American? Predictably, they answer FREEDOM. But at least they do have the freedom to live in whatever way they want and be whoever that want to be. In Malaysia, every parents will teach a vital skill to their kids before they are old enough to think – to just OBEY. DON”T THINK. DONT ASK WHY. The divide-and-conquer rule is nothing new; it’s every politician tools, including the opposition or NGO. It’s in our blood. Feudalist blood. So what it is like being a Malaysian. My Malaysian friend can only think of 1 thing – FOOD. Yes, FOOD. FOOD unites our stomach, we all love our nasi lemak, rojak, young tau foo, roti canai, tandoori, laksa, etc. We are the happiest during festive times, and its all because of FOOD…

Growing older in life, I felt my whole life had been a one big lie. Life is not as beautifully painted like what our teachers told us in kindergarden. I mean, the adult should put a disclaimer in every story books with happy ending that “This is mere fantasy so kids can just dream in neverland and shut up; and parents can save their energy to explain about the evil divided screwed REAL WORLD; and there’s never an ending until you DIE!” I started to be very interested in politics ever since I took international relations in my uni. I did so many readings in the library, mostly unrelated to the exam. Honestly I hate exams, I hate memorizing stuff, I hate that we are being evaluated by how much we can HAFAL; critical thinking, public speaking and problem solving skills are virtually unnecessary. I want to be tested on how good I can debate or discuss or present on certain topic; I want to have open ended exam questions where there’s no right or wrong answers, we are to be judge on our critical thinking skills; I want to be able to relate the subjects that we learned to current affairs and problems of the real world, rather than merely learning the theoretical aspects of the subjects. Thus, I was never concerned on my grades; I just want to utilize all the good facilities and sources that the uni can offer. Almost everyday, I went to the library alone, and submerged myself with good books, from politics, feminism, social issues, religion, psychology, history, philosophy (my favourite), etc. I love reading so much, I gained knowledge more from mere readings than attending classes.

I have both my grandfather as my idols. My mom’s side of grandfather, his name is Husny Abu Bakar, he’s an Indonesian from Medan, fugitive from the sukarno’s death squad. I’m not really sure the history, but apparently he was an intellectual and his wrote things that were very negative and upsetting about sukarno and his communist rule. But in his later year, he became a well-known writer among his peers, especially in Utusan’s Mastika, Before it became a stupid-semi porno-ghost junk mag. Mastika was an intellectual malay magazine back then, with beautiful poetries, sentimental articles about the nation, and intellectually stimulating articles about national issues. My grandfather hated UMNO, he never saw himself the malay that UMNO brainwashed the malays into, partly because he was born and raised in Indonesia in his younger days. He’s more concerned about cultivating a national identity, being a MALAYSIAN. I never got to know my grandfather, but from my parents’ story, he’s a great man with greater aspiration for Malaysia.

On the other hand, my grandfather from my dad’s side has origins from Swatow, Guangdong and Songkla, Thailand. He was a success story of a poor Chinese selling ikan masin from house to house and grew his business from there. I guess, I have his business blood. He was a man that never quit in life and worked really hard. I know, it sounded like a typical Chinese immigrant story, but that’s the fact. When you are given limited resources to survive, you’ll work hard for what you want in life. What I admire about my grandfather was, he’s so humble and generous even though he had made a sizeable fortune on his own. He was very welcoming of my mother, even though she’s not Chinese. He loves to spoil us with toys and stuff; my little bro took that chance and asked for a toy gun at the pasar malam, even though my dad didn’t want him to have the toy. He cried and lied on the floor, very embarrassing, heheheh… but my kind grandfather just bought it for him.

Learning by example is the best way in life. I learned more about life through the spirit, hardship and aspiration of my grandparents. I hope one day we all can see ourselves as Malaysians, regardless of our origins or mixed origins. In my opinion, the essence of being a Malaysian is not what we are, or where we come from, or how we live our life; it is each of us playing a role of our own for Malaysia, and make Malaysia the beautiful place that we want our future generation to feel proud of. The essence of being a Malaysian is to BE.

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