Dataran Merdeka may become a flashpoint again as shouts of Merdeka mingle with cheers for Bersih.
The government is creating a potentially explosive situation on the day the country marks the anniversary of its independence. By warning the people not to paint Dataran Merdeka yellow, it is again poised to unleash violence on the thousands of men and women – young and old – who are expected to converge on the same spot to greet the historical day. The gathering will likely turn into a showdown between the battle-hardened men in blue and the equally battle-tested citizens in yellow that will have political repercussions. The whole celebration now is about politics, about who will fulfil the promises for a better future.
Forget about history for no one appears interested in a dimly lit figure whose declaration of independence sounds hollow amidst the shriller and louder cry for reshaping the country into a land where political beasts of the fanatical kind will roam freely. Be it this camp or that faction, the race to the finishing line is the preoccupation of the main protagonists. Merdeka Day is the starting line for all – the rulers, the pretenders, the people’s movement. The first two are strindently pitching for votes while the third player wants the game conducted clean and fair.
Trouble may erupt when the movement which is spearheading the vanguard for change in the dirt-stained political arena comes face to face with its old foe again. Three rallies later, and still the adamant Old Man refuses to bow down to the will of the people. It is again replaying the horrors of May 13 in a futile bid to frighten the people. But the winds of change are blowing from all directions – and all Malaysians want to see the old environment give way to new surroundings.
Independence Day may just be the ideal platform to marshall Malaysians for one last gigantic march for change. If a million turn up, the government cannot spill their blood. It cannot order the patriotic soldiers on parade to turn their guns on all the patriotic men, women and youths cheering for clean elections. A sea of yellow will be a heartening sight because it shows that the yearning for rights and justice is still burning bright and strong.
The yellow tide will be unbeatable when it courses its way to the very spot where blood was spilled on that infamous day in April. The police cannot stop the people from celebrating an anniversary that the government has turned into a political event to whip up flagging support for its theme. The line has been blurred and shouts of Merdeka will mingle with lusty cheers for Bersih. All this will merge with the unceasing clamour for one nation, one soul.
Two rivers of humanity will be flowing down the parade ground on Aug 31, if all parties are sticking to their plans. Since Merdeka Day is all about promises – kept or unkept – with each player out to prove its credentials, there must be a level playing field. People who are attired in yellow must be treated with decorum and respect because they are not there to demonstrate but to join in the nation-wide celebration of a now political event. To crack down on them or to separate the yellow river from the other streams is inviting trouble.
The scars of April 28 will not disappear from public memory. Neither will resistance against injustice slacken. Now every gathering is an opportunity to revive the spirit of independence – standing up for what is right and true and standing by the promise to keep the country undefiled. The government must make no mistake about the willingness and determination of the people to write a new chapter in the country’s history.
Come Aug 31, the colours of Malaysia will be on display. Blue, red, white, yellow and many other shades of hues. People will be wearing their hearts – and their colours – on their sleeves. The sounds of revelry will fill Dataran Merdeka. And danger will lurk in the background. If yellow is erased, the parade ground will again turn red, which is not a sight we want to see etched in our memory. Yellow is not ugly. It is beautiful, pleasing, royal.