Kee Thuan Chye, made a comment on Malaysia Today after reading
Please let RPK know he has my support. I was at the candlelight vigil that turned into a march at Dataran Merdeka last night. And proud to have taken part. There were many who called out with conviction for RPK's release. The people I saw taking to the streets were those I would never have thought would do such a thing. But they did, and it's partly because of the empowerment RPK has given them in his writings in Malaysia Today and in his ceramahs. He is an inspiration to Malaysians. We need heroes like him.
I hope he will take heart from all this and keep his spirit intact.
May I leave you with my first-hand account of my experience last night:
I was proud to be there.
I got there with my wife, my son and my close friend before 7pm. I parked my car right at Dataran Merdeka. But there were only a handful of people around. And I had just received an SMS saying that the vigil would start at 8pm. I had all this while thought it would start at 7.
We moved off towards Masjid Jamek and ecnountered a group that was being harassed by police. They were threatened like children and told to snuff out their candles. The officer in charge, a Chinese guy, even said he was giving them five seconds to snuff out their candles. They asked him not to threaten them but he reacted even more strongly. He started the countdown: "One ... two ... three ..." The disempowered crowd moved off.
I was disgusted and was about to move off with my little group when we saw the WAMI people walking in a procession with tanglungs (chinese lanturn) towards Dataran Merdeka. We automatically followed them. They gave us tanglungs and we joined in the calls to abolish the ISA and free RPK. The leader of the WAMI group, Wong Chin Huat, talked briefly about the significance of the event. He also thanked the police for their generosity in giving us 10 minutes to gather and then he told us to disperse.
As we walked off, we sang "Happy Birthday" to RPK.
At that point, I wasn't sure what to do next. Would there really be a vigil after all? Would there be enough people present to make any impact? Or just a mere handful or a few pockets of people milling around? I was about to give up hope.
Then Hishammuddin Rais and his friends came by. I asked him what was happening. He indicated that Tian Chua was just across the road. We went over to join him. He knew where to go so we tagged along. We walked towards Jalan Tun Perak. As we neared the junction, we could hear the roar of a large crowd. They were shouting "Mansuhkan ISA!" We were greatly cheered by it.
When we turned the corner, we were amazed to see the huge crowd amassed in a procession heading down Jalan Tun Perak, chanting "Mansuhkan ISA!", "Bebaskan RPK!" and "Valgha Hindraf!" Where did they materialise from? Where were they when we first arrived on the scene just before 7pm?
We lit the candles we had brought along and joined in. The energy of the crowd was infectious. It was a fantastic feeling being in the midst of a large crowd of people with the same aim and the same mission. I was moved to chant along at the top of my voice. Numerous times, my voice cracked with emotion. Only those who know what it feels like to be passionate about something can understand that feeling. Only those who know what it is like to commune with other like-minded, like-hearted people can understand that feeling.
For a gloriuous half hour or so, we wended down Jalan Tun Perak and then turned into Jalan Pudu, past Menara Maybank. When cars honked in support, my heart soared. I saw someone inside a car give a thumbs-up sign. It was a moment of camaraderie and communion that inspired joy and hope.
Finally, we turned into the temple area and continued our vociferous chanting.
It's not often that I feel I've done enough for my country, but taking part in something as momentous as this march against the ISA is one thing I can be truly proud of. For once, I felt I made a significant contribution for the sake of my country.
Freeing RPK and all the ISA detainees, and abolishing the ISA forever cannot but be for the good of this country we all love.
Kee Thuan Chye
Kee graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1976 and received his masters in drama from
Kee has had poetry published Malaysian national newspapers, and in local and international journals such as Masakini, Pacific Quarterly Moana, Southeast Asian Review of English, Sands and Coral, Solidarity, Ideya, Ariel, Kunapipi, and Focus. Two of Kee's plays have been featured in at UK Festivals. "The Big Purge" was read at the Soho Theatre in 2005, as part of Typhoon 4, the International East Asian Playreading Festival. "The Swordfish, then The Concubine" was shortlisted at the 21st International Playwrighting Festival 2006.
Thuan Chye, I still am guilty....I did not fulfill a promise I made.
Am I forgiven?
If not, what is my penance.
But dont be too hard ok?