They found unity in the diversity - everyone was pissed off but for different reasons, and there was no dearth of deep-seated, festering complaints:
- the spike in fuel prices and knock-on effects on the cost of living, while ministers continued to enjoy all-expenses paid holidays;
- the perceived unfairness to non-Muslims caught up in cases of conversion to Islam;
- the recurring episodes of crass, even crude, remarks in Parliament by those elected to represent the people;
- the perceived persecution of the Catholic community over the use of ‘Allah’ to mean ‘God’ in the Bahasa Malaysia version of their newsletter, which almost lost its publishing licence, and the confiscation of Bibles;
- the continuing fallout from rhetoric over ‘Malay supremacy’, bumiputera rights, racist remarks and racially-divisive politics;
- the litany of grievances in
Sabah, where locals alleged they were in danger of becoming strangers in their own land because of ‘favoured’ immigrants; and
- the constant leakages from the national coffer, from the disappearance of savings in reduced fuel subsidies to the unholy haste to invest in indelible ink that could not be used.
The hammer-blows fell with telling accuracy on a ‘selfish, heartless, arrogant, ineffective, greedy and inconsiderate’ BN government led by the sleep-deprived Abdullah.
In January, a group of disgruntled young Malaysians even handed him a pillow and bolster, in recognition of his all-too-frequent ability to catch 40 winks in the middle of official business.
And still Abdullah was oblivious to the shift in sentiments - perhaps he believed a little too much in his pantang dicabar brand of governance and politics.
The final nail was supplied by Barisan Nasional component parties themselves, which imploded over a squabble for plum seats ahead of the general election on March 8.
All this while, the opposition front avoided pitfalls of the past and presented the public with a plausible alternative. Their veterans and newbies drew mammoth crowds to their ceramah nationwide, coaxing voters to shed inhibitions and embrace a ‘new dawn’.
The Year of the Rakyat
As with the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) in 2007, the general election of March 8, 2008 stamped the arrival of a new force in Malaysia.
In this, the Year of the Rakyat, Malaysians were shaken awake from deep slumber and kicked out of their comfort zone to make a conscious choice that, in turn, has shaken up the status quo.
YOU, the defiant, threw out the rotten, the corrupt and the inept in an election that was nothing short of inspiring.
YOU, the fearless, continued to press for reform and speak up against discrimination and injustice.
YOU, the marginalised, showed up with a six-year-old’s handwritten letters, teddy bears and roses to appeal to the better nature of those who have locked up husbands and fathers. When outlawed, you have refused to disappear.
YOU, the outraged, have turned up - some with young children - at weekly protests and candlelight vigils against the Internal Security Act, risking arrest in the process.
YOU, the supportive, wore T-shirts declaring ‘I’m with RPK’, paraded these before watchful eyes, and stood with blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin in his darkest moments of captivity.
YOU, the imaginative, gate-crashed the biggest party of the year - the UMNO ministers’ Hari Raya ‘open house’ - to take your message to the highest leaders of the land.
YOU, the brave, stood against bulldozers and barricades for days on end, resisting the demand to pay toll charges.
YOU, the indefatigable, cycled for 16 days from north and south to
(Allow me here to take the liberty to quote a comment I made at the end of my posting of Monday November 26 2007. This was how I ended my posting, angry of course):
YOU GASSED US, YOU BATHED US IN CHEMICALLY-LACED JETS OF WATER, YOU MAN-HANDLED AND ARRESTED OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
IF YOU WON YESTERDAY, JUST REMEMBER OUR DAY WILL COME, COME THE GENERAL ELECTIONS.
THAT WILL BE OUR DAY!
YOU have all sent out the unequivocal message that you are no longer spectators, but movers and shakers of the nation.
YOU ARE INDEED
NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR AWARD
A SUCCESSFUL 2009!
GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU.