I arrived late almost at 9pm. So, I missed what KJ John said in the videos above. Thanks to SC Lee for uploading them so we could still get the gist of what he was saying. It’s worth the 2 minutes.
As I walked towards the crowd gathered at the PJ Civic Centre, I was delightfully surprised that we still had a substantial crowd considering the events last Sunday.
Again like the previous vigils before this, there was a good mixture of people from different age groups as well as races and religions. Of course, the unifying factor more specifically was that all who were there stood against what we believe to be unjust laws for today such as the Internal Security Act (ISA). We were there to stand in solidarity with those who are still detained without trial.
But more broadly I believe we were there because we stood for being part of the Malaysian family, some would call it “Bangsa Malaysia” and working together for a better tomorrow. So, to call it “Perhimpunan Mesra Rakyat” had it’s place because that is what we look forward to (or may that was what we were even trying to demonstrate in the present)!
Upon arrival I was immediately offered a candle to light not knowing the terms and conditions for the gathering that night which many have already highlighted their irony. I only realized I broke the rules after I came home and read Anil Netto’s blog post LIVE: Restrictive permit fails to spoil “best vigil so far”. I came later so I missed the briefing in the beginning. So, I was innocently ignorant of the rules when I was asked to say a few words by Richard Yeoh while holding a candle in my hand! (I was also totally unaware a church member recorded me while I was speaking, so that’s a double blur on my part)
Just to highlight a few of the restrictions (With comments, trying to be seriously humorous at the same time if you don’t mind):
- No Candles Allowed
No candles for candlelight vigils? Okay, we could innovate, torch lights next week (no cleaning wax problems later)? Hibiscus flowers for a change? Flower vigil?
- No T-shirts showing support for the Abolition of the ISA allowed
Opps some of us came with Bebas Malaysia Dari ISA badges, others with T-shirts and all. On second reading, only no T-shirts, buttons and badges can!
- “Penganjur dilarang melakukan sebarang aktiviti yang lain yang melambangkan simpati terhadap tahanan Akta Keselamatan Negara”(Organisers are prohibited from any other activity that suggests sympathy towards ISA detainees!)
We could of course show sympathy to the family members of the ISA detainees at least. Ah . from a psychological perspective we have moved from sympathy to empathy. Empathy is ok, in fact better!)
- No banners or distribution of leaflets allowed
Save the trees and environment!
- No political speeches allowed
Of course, there are those who would like to define the word political in much more broader terms in its relation to our everyday lives. I suppose speeches which deal with human suffering, justice and peace, citizenship, neighborliness, compassion, accountability, . . . the list goes on, concerns which affect our everyday life as citizens of Malaysia should be permissible.
It was good to see the more prominent faces from the civil society groups, bloggers and politicians. But at the end of the day, the best part of vigils like this is when ordinary people like you and me step out either for the first time, or continually to speak out at least by our presence in events like these to send a strong message to those elected into power and the administration of the nation on what we as the people stand for, and that’s what elected leaders need to reflect in their service to the nation.
So all in all, it was a good candlelight vigil. It was extra good that the peaceful gathering of concerned Malaysians could sing the national anthem NegaraKu in closing uninterrupted.