Monday, September 29, 2008

Hindraf starts off snowballing effect

About 2,000 people marched from the Dataran Merdeka to the Hindu temple opposite the Puduraya bus terminal in solidarity against the Internal Security Act; pleading for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the release of all detainees. [Malaysiakini, 27/9/08]

What started off as a candle light vigil for press freedom by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and several NGOs quickly snowballed into a gathering of 2,000 Malaysians calling for the disbandment of the ISA and the release of all its detainees.

The organisers of the candle light vigil had initially planned to stage a peaceful gathering in Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). It was understood that the police had deployed a number of officers at the intended venue; probably to pull the plug on the so-called "illegal gathering". The group of about 500 people, then took another route and marched for a kilometer to a Hindu temple adjacent to the Puduraya bus station.

Amazingly, many members of the public soon found themselves joining in the 1 kilometer march and the numbers quickly swelled to 2,000 people. Another group carrying lanterns also mustered in to join the street-wide protest against the ISA.

A group of just 500 people have triggered a snowballing effect; turning a mini vigil for press freedom into an ostentatious display of democracy.

Hindraf Chairman, P. Waytha Moorthy (image) who is now residing overseas later expressed his gratitude to the Royal Malaysian Police for allowing the peaceful march to go on without any major incidents. He also stressed the significance of the march; hoping it would be a step closer to abolishing the ISA.

"The government now must accept the reality; Malaysians have sent a strong message and have voiced their rejection to the use of the ISA," he said. [Malaysiankini, 27/9/08]
However, it was reported that the police had obstructed the distribution of anti-ISA materials to the public the day earlier on September 26. ASP Sydney Clyde Jeremiah also warned the group coordinator, E. Nalini not to use loudspeakers or carry signboards in front of Masjid Jamek where they were gathering.

The September 26 March was not the first time in recent years for ordinary Malaysians to take to the streets in peaceful protest for justice. About 40,000 people participated in the Bersih Rally on November 10, 2007 to peacefully demand for electoral reforms but was eventually marred by sanctioned police violence and arrests.

The 2000-strong march on September 26 may not poise the slimmest chance of persuading the government to abolish the ISA once and for all. Nonetheless, it still leaves Malaysians a tinge of hope that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

The voice of democracy was heard once again. It is now up to the leaders of the Barisan Nasional government to heed its call and restore true freedom.

Let us continue to believe in Malaysia.