Instructor: Beth Seilberger
When the Rebels Go Marching In
It was a quiet, breezy Saturday afternoon when a massive traffic jam happened in the heart of our capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. I was on my way back to my school from a tiring four hours bus ride right from my hometown. As a 16 years-old student who didn’t have much concern but for his responsibility to study, I get on the city train and head on to my school. If I have read the news yesterday, I might be aware of the chaos and massacre that will happen shortly.
On the flyover train, I sat by the window and glanced downward into the street. There were fewer cars than usual, but today is Sunday. Where everybody had gone? As the train passed over the building of the Royal Palace, I saw that the street was closed and there were a number of police officers, standing tall and ready, armed with a MP5 machine gun and a gas mask put on. My heart starts to wonder, what will happen now? What is happening right now? I looked around to the other passenger of the train, and they all looked scared. A couple of little kids were crying hard, while their mother tried to calm them down. From a few blocks away, I can see a number of groups of people are gathering near the street, not far below, marching on as they shouted and raising their banners of a new reformation.
I was only a typical high school student who doesn’t really care about politics back then, but the event sure taught me a lot of things. As the train approaches the next station, Jalan Sultan Ismail Station, it went faster and I’m not expecting it to stop at the speed. Seconds later, the conductor announced that the train will not be stopping at the station. As we go through the station, I looked out the window. The sight out there killed my unconcerned-perception on politics and my country. The sight that I’ve seen is only on the World News, and now I see it with my own head, in my country. Was not so intriguing when it’s in your own country isn’t it?
Outside the station, there was smoke everywhere. People of all walks of life, of all sorts of ages, are running here and there closing their mouth with some piece of clothes. Some of them were chasing the train as we passed by; trying to grab the door hoping it will stop. Their eyes were all red, a woman and her children were kneeling on the ground right beside the station’s platform, closing her mouth while trying to ease her children who were scared. You must be wondering what has happened, and I’m sure you won’t like it too.
It was not a terrorist attack, but it was just an extreme anti-government protest going on the streets. I learned this when I go off the street and saw the thousands of angry protester were walking down the street as they march to the National Palace, where they were planning to hand a memorandum to the King. Filled with curiosity, I walked towards them, following them from a few blocks behind. Shouting “Reformation now!”, they started to scare all the shop owners around the street, and they forced the street owner to close down their business for that day. The crowd of thousands of people had been given several warning by the Malaysia’s FRU (Federal Reserve Unit) and the police, but they still continued to make a chaos on the main street of our capitals. Foods and things got stolen, old man got mugged, windows get broken and ladies been harassed. I’ve seen it all happened with my own eyes.
Independence is not how we define it, because it defines itself. A chaotic and unlawful protest out on the street is just not our way of doing things, it is not a symbol of democracy, it a symbol of rude denial. I was only a teenage kid back there, and I’m sure that event will have a big effect on my life. As our former Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had mentioned, “This is stupid. It is not our way to do things. It is not Malaysian’s way.”
p/s: a descriptive essay for my ESL class. Should've mentioned the yellow shirts though ;)