Hornbill Unleashed

July 4, 2011

Yellow is sunshine

Sim Kwang Yang

“Yellow is sunshine. It is a warm colour that, like red, has conflicting symbolism. On the one hand, it denotes happiness and joy but on the other hand, yellow is the colour of cowardice and deceit.

“Yellow is one of the warm colours. Because of the high visibility of bright yellow, it is often used for hazard signs and some emergency vehicles. Yellow is cheerful.

“For years yellow ribbons were worn as a sign of hope as women waited from their men to come marching home from war. Today, they are still used to welcome home loved ones. It is use for hazard signs creates an association between yellow and danger, although not quite as dangerous as red.”

Yellow is also the colour of Bersih, the popular mass movement working to introduce clean and fair voting in Malaysia’s distorted electoral system. It is one of the new bywords in the political narrative that has gripped the nation in the run-up to Bersih’s rally on July 9.

So far, the reactions from the dominant political forces in Malaysia, including the parties in power, the election commission itself, and all others who participate in the mainstream narrative, have been unusually strong in response.

NONEGlancing through the front pages of newspapers, you might be led to imagine that a call for electoral reform, to clean up our voting system, is the most threatening evil in the world.

Yet how can it be? For all we want is but a small degree of reform, to restore to our electoral process the dignity and universal respect that it deserves.

Durian path to true democracy

The police have practically banned the use of yellow in the public domain. The fear the police are trying to generate for the colour has grown out of all proportion that common sense could possibly make room for.

From the atmosphere of paranoia that has been created, it appears as if another Operation Lalang, another cycle of mass arrests, is on the cards.

The journey of democracy in Malaysia has taken many painful twists and turns. Operation Lalang ISA detentions, together with many mass arrests in the past, are just a few of these obstacles.

The process of participatory politics in Malaysia has always grown through fits and starts, with the only constant being the repressive climate of the country.

And now we come to another crossroads on our long march to establish freedom of expression, this time in instituting reform to our voting system.

But the political climate of the country has changed through the years. I honestly do not think that calling for reform in our voting system will cause another May 13.

All those Prophets of Doom can scare the illiterate Malaysian into cowardly silence almost every time. It is right that we should reform our electoral system, and doing so entails no risk of great social disturbance like a race riot.

NONEAfter all, we have witnessed the Bersih movement once, in 2007. It did change the political scenario in Malaysia forever, as the opposition grew in strength in the general election of 2008.

That is why the parties in power and the police are so afraid of the current Bersih movement in 2011. They are afraid the appearance of large numbers of bodies, unrestrained by fear of oppression, on the streets of Kuala Lumpur may just tip the balance and effect a change of government in the next general election.

Pressing need for 2-party system

I am a democrat in my deepest political convictions. The more democratic my country is, the better it is for Malaysians and our next generation.

It does not matter whether Umno or Pakatan Rakyat is in power. The most important thing remains that a country is truly democratic: our political representatives, whoever they are, must abide by the principle of the rule of law.

Having an alternative government is the precursor of the realisation of this democratic dream.

Having a change of government once every so often keeps every politician on his toes, and that is good – essential, in fact – for democracy.

Only when an alternative government is possible, can there be true democracy. As far as Umno stands for uncritical submission to one-party rule, it will be resistant to all changes.

We must first create a condition for the renewal of our political system by voting out corrupted vested interests.

Pakatan Rakyat looks, at the moment, like a vibrant alternative to the ruling Barisan coalition. To keep alive our dream of our two-party system, we must first make it possible for Pakatan Rakyat, an alternative government, to come to power.

In order for that to be possible, we need electoral reform, as demanded by Bersih. This is part of the inevitable flow of history.

SIM KWANG YANG was member of parliament for Bandar Kuching, Sarawak from 1982 to 1995. He can be reached at sky8hornbill@gmail.com. All comments are welcomed.


  1. Americans call yellow, chicken.

    They must be nuts!

    Comment by anon — August 21, 2011 @ 6:48 PM | Reply

  2. It is sad that a rally for clean election is painted by the government and those who benefit from the elite class of UMNO politicians and cronies as a demonstration that seek to topple the government and destabilize the country.

    Malaysia must be a 4th world country if an peaceful expression for something good can be destabilizing.

    Foreign investors must think twice before putting money into this country. The only way the UMNO entitlement class will wake up is when foreigners move their money elsewhere. It is a shame but that seems to be the only way that change for the better can happen in Malaysia. Yes, there must be suffering before any change can take place.

    Comment by Yusof — July 4, 2011 @ 11:34 AM | Reply



    The people are rising in stages from Lundu to the far corners of northern Sarawak.

    Sarawakians rise to free yourselves from UMNO colonial rule!

    Comment by Orang2bangkit — July 4, 2011 @ 11:20 AM | Reply


    Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair
    In the morning, when we rise
    In the morning, when we rise
    That’s the time,
    That’s the time
    I love the best

    Blue is the color of the sky-y-y
    In the morning, when we rise
    In the morning, when we rise
    That’s the time,
    That’s the time
    I love the best

    Green is the color of the sparkling corn
    In the morning, when we rise
    In the morning, when we rise
    That’s the time
    That’s the time
    I love the best

    Mellow is the feeling that I get
    When I see her, mm-hmmm,
    When I see her, mm-hmmm
    That’s the time,
    That’s the time
    I love the best

    Freedom is a word I rarely use
    Without thinking, mm-hmmm,
    Without thinking, mm-hmmm,
    Of the time,
    Of the time
    When I’ve been loved


    About a man who would soon free after many long years.

    Let us march & demonstrate to free ourselves from the many long years of suffering in a prison called neo-colonial “Malaysia”

    Comment by Our Sarawak — July 4, 2011 @ 8:44 AM | Reply

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