The rally has long been in the works and only recently, it has gathered momentum and despite many being skeptical over whether it will actually take place in the present political climate, the Tangkap Malaysian Official 1 (Tangkap MO1) rally happened today on the streets of the capital.
And it did gather quite a crowd of students, a crowd which always tried to be vocal but had been suppressed due to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA), which controls students from being politically active.
(The UUCA was amended only recently to allow students to hold positions in both political parties and campus organisations, even then with terms and conditions.)
The Tangkap MO1 rally idea was initiated and organised by undergraduates – young faces which have never been in the limelight before. Some dubbed it as the rally by ordinary students.
Spokesperson Anis Syafiqah became the poster girl for the rally when she made an impassionate plea to the police a few days back when they were stopped from entering the UiTM campus to ‘spread the message’.
Since then, she has been hailed as the “ordinary youth” who is saying “extraordinary things”. Along with her, hundreds more of “ordinary youths” also said the same “extraordinary things”.
The initial plan is for the youths to march from Sogo shopping complex and Jalan Masjid India to Dataran Merdeka, although the authorities have completely barricaded their destination.
It was obvious this time round that the students wanted to be in complete control and they ensured that political parties did not hijack the rally as they are wont to do, although members of the opposition attended the rally.
The bold students were orderly and daringly carried effigies of the personalities named or suggested in the US Department of Justice suit against 1Malaysia Development Berhad – the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, her son Riza Aziz and tycoon Jho Low.
The posters and banners carried by the students did not mince their messages to the powers that be, and the students chanted slogans which said what they actually came to do – Tangkap MO1.
There was no veiling of their anger and it was surprising that despite a very subdued student movement in the country (as compared to developed nations), the turnout was in a couple of thousands with a big majority of undergraduates. Many of them know fully well they were risking their government scholarships and study loans.
As a matter of fact, they risked everything – their studies and their future – in that rally to have their voice heard. Yet, they came.
The authorities, despite ensuring that Dataran Merdeka was off limits to the participants of the rally, were very helpful and assisted in keeping the rally mostly trouble-free together with the organisers.
No one has been arrested so far, despite the gathering being deemed as illegal by the police.
Even though one can safely say the political situation of the country will not change after the rally despite the effigies ‘being put behind bars’ as a symbol to what the students wish for, it sure shows that university students of this country are well aware of issues taking place in the country. It also serves to jolt the political powers who can sit back no more and take these youths for granted.
In a country which gained independence initiated mainly through the student movement, the powers that be must realise that the rally today showed that students of today are not mere Pokemon chasers, but well concerned of the future of their country and dare to speak their minds, even if it means that they may be clamped down by the authorities.
It is also interesting to observe students are standing up to speak as citizens of Malaysia and not as members of any political party.
Today’s rally also serves as a warning to the opposition that there is a big group of university students who are not politically blind and will stand up to speak out against corruption and abuse of power.
No matter on whose side one may be on, one has to concede that the two and a half hour Tangkap MO1 Rally shows that the student movement in Malaysia is very well alive and kicking.