Monday, April 30, 2012

My Bersih 3.0 Experience In Tokyo

"Duduk sehingga sebati di bumi.
Bantah sehingga berbara di hati."

A. Samad Said
Bersih 3.0


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April twenty-eight, twenty twelve. This was the day when we made another step further for our nation.

Up till Saturday morning, I was still unsure about going. Someone sent me an invitation at Facebook, to join the Bersih 3.0 & Himpunan Hijau Tokyo a couple of weeks earlier. I browsed through the list of attendees and saw nobody I know, and declined the invitation. The selfish part of me told myself to let them do the "job" on our behalf. I preferred to catch up on my lost sleep over the past one week, and spend my Saturday at home. Reflecting it back now, yes, I'm quite disappointed with my selfish thought at that time.

I woke up around eight in the morning, and as usual checked for updates at Facebook. Then, came the message from Waylon. "U see all the updates on FB u still no semangat? Sigh... Ya I'm sad. I always thought u're patriotic. But now i have doubts liao. Somemore lynas gonna be built beside ur state."

His reversed psychology certainly worked as I made up my mind to join the rest of the Malaysians for Bersih 3.0 gathering in Tokyo. I immediately called up Kai Cung and asked him if he would join me. He later called Shei Pien to join as well. So, it was like a chain reaction which was started by Waylon. So, thank you Waylon for your motivasi pagi-pagi buta haha!

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Yellow t-shirt from Uniqlo with the catchy phrase -"Not for us but for our children.".

I took out my yellow polo t-shirt because that is the only yellow attire I had. Packed my camera and made sure I brought along the spare batteries and memory card as well. Also not forgetting were my Malaysian flags. Last minute decision to join the gathering means I had not time to prepare any placards to bring along. I dropped by the Uniqlo store in Kinshicho to grab a piece of yellow t-shirt, quickly changed from my polo yellow to the newly bought t-shirt, before hopping onto the train to head to the gathering point in Okachimachi.

Two minutes into the train, I sensed something wasn't right. I was in the wrong train! The train I took was heading the opposite direction, which means I was heading back to my house direction haha wtf! Of so many days, I decided to make this stupid mistake. Probably I was too excited to get to the venue as soon as possible. I reached Akihabara Station to transfer to the Yamanote Line. I walked along the platform filled with the Japanese who came out for the long weekend and waited for the train to come.

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 Okachimachi Park in Taito Ward, Tokyo. The crowd has grew close to 100 people by one in the afternoon.

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Preparing DIY banners before the event begins.

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Miss Bersih 3.0 In Tokyo haha!

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Anyone wanna buy some limited edition Bersih 3.0 ballons from our official ballon seller?

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This is what we come for - to demand for a free and fair election through the 8 resolutions.

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Yup, only eight. Not nine-lah.

Then, I saw a guy, in yellow. I could sense a rush of adrenaline right at that moment. I have read many Bersih 2.0 stories last year, how strangers became friends within seconds, because they know they share one common belief. Of the hundreds of commuters on the platform, only two of us were in yellow. Without a second thought, I walked to him, offer him a handshake, and said "Hi!". He replied me with a friendly smile.  He looked familiar but I couldn't recall his name.
 
"Going for Bersih too?" was my simple question. The question was rather rhetoric because we already knew we were heading to the same place, for the same cause. We first met more than a year ago, at the MSAJ Sports Festival in October 2010. I later found out that Jeremy is staying just a few blocks away from my house, which I never knew all this while. Now, the Malaysian population in my neighborhood has increased by one more!

The group was supposed to assemble at Okachimachi station, before heading together to the Okachimachi Park, five minutes away. We arrived five minutes late at the station and as expected, nobody were there anymore; all had started to walk towards the park. As we slowly got closer to the park, we began to see happy faces in yellow. We knew we had reached the correct spot.

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The organisers, led by Adriene addressing the crowd, to kick off the event.

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Getting live updates from Kuala Lumpur through his iPad.

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As the crowd listening attentively to the speech.

The sun was shining brightly on a spring Saturday. It was a perfect setting after a run of consecutive days of bad weather over the past one week. I was not disappointed as I saw Malaysians of different races were there; from college and universities students to mak ciks and aunties to pak ciks and uncles. Some came with their little kids, as their parents believe their children deserve to witness this 'unusual scene and day'. Remember the Petronas Merdeka advertisement?

These were not radical highly-politicised types, just your average men and women, the type you'd meet at the supermarket perhaps. Strangers of different races were chatting with each other like old friends or neighbours they have known for years. Strangers or not is not a big deal because we were a big family there. We exchanged greetings among each other, with different types of ways. A smile, a nod was more than enough as all of us were thinking and heading the same direction for one. I bumped into some familiar faces there as well, and some whom I didn't even know but they recognise me. They walked to me and greeted me by my name. Very surprised to see that.

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We formed a huge circle to sing the national anthem together.

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Adriene reading out the message from Bersih 3.0 co-chairman, Datuk S. Ambiga. for Global Bersih.

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Eight resolutions sought, read out one by one.

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Followed by loud cheer from everyone.

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"Hidup Rakyat!" was another familiar cheer.

There were around 100 people when we arrived but the crowd kept growing until it reached 150 people, the unofficial count given by the organiser. What's more impressive is that there was a huge presence of young generations among the crowd. To see, to hear the younger generation of Malaysia, who talk profoundly of their country and their concern for the country, and not about Chinese, and not about Malay, and not about India but Malaysia, it is so touching. It is a great indicator that the youth care for their country as much as their elder generations and they have awakened to their rights. It gives us a hope that there are better things to come for Malaysia.

The atmosphere was like a carnival as people went there with their yellow umbrellas, yellow balloons, yellow bags, yellow shoes, yellow t-shirts; in all, everyone tried to look as yellowish as possible haha! Some were squatting in a corner, using marker pens to write some messages on yellow cardboard and banners. Some of them were really creative with their catchy messages that it gave me smiles reading them. Some were exchanging conversations. Some were happily taking photos with each other. It was a beautiful afternoon.

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There were about five to six groups, some group sat on the ground, some stood.

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 Group chatting, where we exchange ideas and thoughts among each other.

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Group photo after the end of the sharing session.

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The park was turned into a sea of yellow Malaysians.

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This is our voice from Tokyo.

Adriene, one of the organizing committee and a few others were already on the stage, addressing the crowd of the flow of the event followed by a short speech, about the purpose we assembled there. At the same time, we were kept updated of the latest development back in Kuala Lumpur. It seems that the crowd keeps growing every other hour, which was followed by loud cheer from us and also prayers that nothing untoward would happen to our counterpart back home. Ivan acted as the Japanese MC, translating the speech for the few local folks who were curious to find out what were those people in yellow doing in their park. Seeing the park turned a sea of yellow, maybe the Japanese thought we might had yellow fever haha wtf!

We then started to sing Negaraku. We could feel a gush of blood flowing through our body. The national anthem ended with a loud cheer from everyone. It was subsequently proceeded with calls for support for Bersih's demands for clean and fair election to be met. Adriene took lead by reading out the eight resolutions, followed by a thunderous roar of "Bersih! Bersih!" from the crowd.

Later, we split into smaller groups of about twenty person per group and made a circle for each group. Each of us in the group briefly introduced themselves and share with the rest the purpose they were there. Hearing the voice of the younger generations who were able to proudly express themselves about their love for their country is just beautiful.

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Tokyo Banana was there to support Bersih 3.0 too!

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Flanegan Vester, a proud Sabahan in his Murut traditional dress and his Sabah flag.
 
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Kai Cung with his interesting "Cuci Cuci Malaysia" home -made banner."

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It was a lovely family day for some.

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Voice of the youth!

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Supports from the working Malaysians as well.

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We even had Japanese who went there in Bersih 3.0 t-shirt!

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New friendships were forged.

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Meeting some old friends there as well.

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With the couple who were traveling in Tokyo but made it a point to join us.

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Anslem, my senior was there too!

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Tashia Peterson (second from left) and her family who was on a holiday to Japan

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With Susanna (right), Shahmala (middle), her husband (left) now working in Tokyo, and a friend.

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Different background, different age-group, different beliefs, different sex, different skin colours, but one common goal.

At the same time, the organizers went around the crowd, collecting signatures. everyone were requested to sign on a washi, to show our support all the way from Tokyo. People continued to chat with each other. New friends were made. They were exchanging contacts with each other. They continue to take pictures with each other. It was all smiles throughout the more than two-hour gathering. Lovely sight.

From a random conversation with a guy, he told me that he traveled 80 kilometers from Tsuchiura in Ibaraki prefecture to join the gathering. I told him I was very impressive with his effort, but he said it was nothing. There was another guy, who came all the way from Miyagi, more than 360 kilometers from Tokyo. He certainly believes that he has a prove to point.

I also managed to catch up with a couple; the husband is an Malaysian Indian and the wife Malaysian Chinese. Both of them were traveling in Tokyo and scheduled to return to Malaysia in a couple of days. However, they decided to drop by Okachimachi Park to join us for a few hours.

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 This is for you Malaysians!

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Today we saw Malaysians from many generations showing how united we are. We are all colour blind today, we exercise our rights today, 
we've done what 1Malaysia fails to do so far.

At the same time, I am not claiming that everyone supports Bersih. I have friends who are against Bersih and I am fine agreeing to disagree with them (in a healthy democracy, you need a diversity in opinions to avoid 'groupthink'). The hundred of thousands of Malaysian in Kuala Lumpur doesn't necessary reflect that the whole population of Malaysia shares the same sentiment.

There are others who thinks otherwise, which we must respect their opinion as they should respect ours. They do not believe in what we believe, despite our optimisms and belief the need of a better Malaysia. "It's useless, nothing will change, why wanna waste my time, not interested in politics, there's no more hope for Malaysia, why wanna bring the mess out of the country, not a good thing to risk the good name of Malaysia in foreign land, etc." was their tidak-apa responses.

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  Bersih 3.0 is reported in Japan's TV station. I also saw the news broadcasted in the train a day after. 
Perhaps this is the 'tarnishing the country's good name' act as some argued.  

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Guess what photo everyone was taking?
  
I was determined not to let those words discourage me. This is certainly not creating havoc, buat kacau, seeking for 'cheap publicity' (as some people had claimed) and attention, nor time wasting. This is a step towards building a better society for our people back home. There are still lots of people we care for back there, suffering with inequality, suffering with the effects of corruption and so on. Without change, the cycle will keep going and the future of the nation is bleak. Don't just criticise what the government did not do for us, ask yourself what can you contribute and do for the nation.

At the same time however, I received a lot of encouragements from my friends' messages telling us that despite not able to join us, their spirits will be with us, we felt we all have a prove to point. They have their own reasons for not joining us. But I would pledge you guys that even though you are not interested in joining this kind of rally, at least fulfill your responsibility as a rakyat. Go register as a voter if you have not done so. 

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 Group photo at the end of the event.

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Bersih 3.0 In Tokyo on April 28, 2012.

I for one was glad to be there and met so many new people and friends. I am glad that Malaysians, not only in Kuala Lumpur, but in every parts of the world, had stood up as one. It's because we believe what we did today is for our future generations to have a better time. I quote the conversation my friend had with Pak Samad in Masjid Negara after their Asar prayers - "Apa yang saya lakukan ini demi melihat negara yang lebih baik untuk anak-anak cucu saya. Saya telah ditipu 54 tahun dan tidak mahu kamu ditipu lagi. Saya telah tua dan kepada kamu anak-anak muda, jangan biarkan orang tua yang rakus terus berkuasa. Bezakan antara negarawan dan kuasawan."

This is a video I made from the Bersih 3.0 & Himpunan Hijau in Tokyo.


We believed and continue to believe that the day will come. The tears, blood and sweat shed on 428 will not be wasted.

(Photo credit: Flanegan Vester, Jia Herng, Kent Tan, WinD Lee)

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