This year has been quite interesting!
On my birthday this year, I was at one of the biggest opposition rallies at Han Chiang College. I sat on the wet ground with an ever ready poncho and umbrella in case the rain came. It did but I still didn’t leave.
And yesterday, while we were supposed to celebrate Mid Autumn Festival with mooncakes and lanterns, it turned out to be another interesting night.
Michelle had sms-ed me the night before that a candle light vigil would be held at Dewan Sri Pinang to support the immediate release of the ISA detainees.
Of course we went.
There was no hesitating.
Nic told me specifically to wear sandals and not my usual heels “in case we have to run from the police.”
Ha ha. Nice one.
I wouldn’t be silly to wear heels to such an event. Yes, I did think of it – maybe they might spray water at us or something awful and then I would have to run for my life. So I wore my most practical footwear – rubber sandals!
But then again, this is the Penang Government run by the Pakatan Rakyat. Lim Guan Eng was once on the OTHER side and nah, I went with full confidence that we were going to a candle light vigil and we would be OK.
Like the March 8 episode (where those in the know wore red shirts and red baju and red scarves), those who came out last night wore black t-shirts in a show of solidarity. Last night was a show of true Malaysia Boleh. We were like a Yasmin Ahmad-Petronas ad – people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds. Malay girls with black sequinned head scarves, NGO people, church people, Chinese aunties, Indian uncles. Every facet of Malaysian race was represented.
And we came together for a reason – to call for the release of civilians who were detained.
No one believes the crappy reasons that 3 Malaysians were detained for their own safety. If that’s the case then why the trip to Taiwan for some people? Might as well put them under ISA because it’s for their own safety ya?
Here’s Nic in his fave colour
Anyway, I didn’t go with any candles being a virgin at this sort of event (my first time ok?). Nic did tell me that we should bring some but I thought someone would pass candles around.
Okaaayyy…. nope. They passed flyers about but no candles.
When we arrived (we’d walked from Leith Street where we had dinner) at Dewan Sri Pinang, a large crowd had gathered. Most wore black, most held candles. What a carnival atmosphere though we saw many policemen milling about.
And many knew each other – just shows how small Penang is or rather how many NGO folks are on this island. Either way, there was much camaraderie amongst everyone and they greeted each other with pleasure (and of course with outright complaints about how unfair it all was!)
Mustafa Kamal (my lecturer when I was studying Mass Comm in USM) and ALIRAN exco gave a short speech, so did the Penang Deputy Chief Minister I, Dr Ramasamy. And everyone thronged forward and cheered when Tan Hoon Cheng appeared. Fabian who had reached earlier said a few songs were sung too.
Carry a lantern if you don’t have a candle..this is what the woman is doing! Clever!
Cars honked in support as they passed by and by 9.45pm, we were told to disperse peacefully. Still many lingered on and waved to passing cars and showed their placards.
Fabian (a friend and a Catholic priest) said he was conducting a special morning mass this morning (8am) at his church – the Holy Spirit – to pray for the detainees.
Tried taking pictures with my Canon but full moon or not, it was a bit too dark to get good stuff. I did go home and ate some mooncake but I thought this gathering signaled that we Malaysians or at least Penangites want justice and we can be quite adamant when it comes to our rights as citizens.
This year has been quite interesting!