The #TangkapMO1 rally is quite encouraging, really — a small but peaceful gathering which saw about 1,000 people turn up to speak out against a burning local issue. And yet, there has been a negative response to the event.
Quite a few Malaysians reacted towards it as they did towards Bersih — as if it was a waste of time, effort, and energy, as well as a disturbance of the peace. There are even claims by the government that protests are not a part of local culture, being nothing but shenanigans of Liberals as part of an agenda.
Although the infamous Himpunan Baju Merah (Red Shirt Collective) did not turn up on the day itself, they nonetheless made a fuss by identifying 35 students who showed up for the rally and threatening to expose their participation to their respective educational institutions.
Its leader, Sungai Besar Umno chief Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, was even quoted as saying, “If they break the law, then there’s nothing wrong for us to do the same.” Someone needs to tell Jamal that that’s not how it works; two wrongs don’t make a right — especially when you imply that you are basically willing to create chaos.
Now, consider this: did the rally achieve nothing at all? It proved that the students were brave enough to risk going against the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) in order to make a statement.
In fact, the Act was imposed in order to curb student activism — and it cannot be denied that public activism has shaped our nation’s history very strongly; the very Merdeka which we celebrated yesterday proves it.
For those who would argue from the perspective of religion — especially those Muslims who claim that the protest is haram because it is against authority figures — they would be well advised to heed the words of the Almighty Himself: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (Surah An-Nisa, ayat 135). In other words, taking a stand against injustice is encouraged by the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful.
What about public disillusionment? Well, many honestly feel that is true — but it is not disillusionment with the protesters, it is people getting fed up of being taken for fools. You see, locals have this very annoying habit of entitlement, expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter and complaining vociferously when things go wrong — particularly when it was their own fault.
Well, these brave souls have shown that it is not enough to sit and complain. People need to get up and take a stand. Offering only excuses for inaction just means that you have lost the moral right to complain. In this case, wearing yellow is not a crime – but acting yellow is. These protesters may have “achieved nothing” — but it’s better than sitting tight and doing nothing.