By Zedeck Siew
KUALA LUMPUR, 5 May 2009: The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) has urged all Malaysians to wear black on 7 May to protest the "ongoing Perak coup" by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
"It will be a peaceful but powerful message of civil disobedience: that we, the people, are the politicians' bosses and no politician defiant of public opinion can escape punishment at the next poll," said Bersih representative Wong Chin Huat at the launch of the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign today.
"Let's paint every state and territory, every town and village, black with our clothes, headbands, hats, turbans, veils, armbands, ribbons and stickers on 7 May," said Wong, noting that the gesture was an act every citizen could participate in.
When asked why black was chosen, Wong said it was the colour of grieving, and that 1BLACKMalaysia was a symbolic mourning for the death of democracy in Perak.
He noted that symbolic funerals for political causes were not new. "In 1946, Umno berkabung (mourned) when they opposed the Malayan Union. We are just following in their tradition."
The 1BLACKMalaysia campaign is timed to coincide with the beginning of the Perak state legislature sitting. The Perak state assembly is slated to sit on 7 May, despite efforts by Speaker V Sivakumar to postpone it.
The High Court is also scheduled to hear the case to determine Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir's legality as Perak Menteri Besar for two days, beginning today.
Wong, a political scientist who is also a columnist with The Nut Graph, criticised the Perak state secretariat's directive to allow only 13 selected media organisations to cover the sitting. "While Zambry has since retracted the 'media curfew', the initial move reveals a regime that fears public scrutiny."
The 1BLACKMalaysia campaign is being spearheaded by Bersih, a coalition of 71 political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It has also been endorsed by the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI), Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), and Anwar Ibrahim Club (AIC).
Present at the press conference were parliamentarians Sivarasa Rasiah (Subang, Parti Keadilan Rakyat), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor, PAS), Tony Pua (Petaling Jaya Utara, DAP) and Teo Nee Ching (Serdang, DAP).
From left: Teo, Dzulkifli, Wong, Sivarasa, Pua and CPI director Dr Lim Teck Gee
"We must show that we protest what has happened in Perak. The day when dissolution of the state assembly was denied by the Perak Sultan, the people of Perak suffered a great injustice," said Sivarasa.
Sivarasa said that Bersih, since its founding, championed the right of citizens to be able to participate in free and fair elections.
"With Perak, we have not just been denied the right to free and fair elections, but the greater right to self-determination itself," he added.
Dzulkefly said that the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign was a continuation of Bersih's "historic" efforts, citing the coalition's successful 10 Nov 2007 rally in Kuala Lumpur.
"We call on [Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak] to avoid the carrying out of 1BLACKMalaysia by addressing all these pressing issues," Dzulkifli added.
The campaign's slogan is, "1BLACKMalaysia, democracy first, elections now". It is a play on Najib's "1Malaysia, people first, performance now" vision.
Citing disappointment with Najib's slogan, Pua said national issues such as the Internal Security Act and land rights issues in Perak have not been resolved.
"This shows that not only are the people not first, but they are sidelined. Is this 'performance now'?" Pua said.
CPI director Dr Lim Teck Ghee, who was also present, cautioned that those who participated in the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign risked being branded treasonous or unpatriotic.
However, Lim said it was the "basic responsibility of every Malaysian to question and oppose illegal, unconstitutional acts."
"The real enemies of the state are those who condone [acts like the Perak takeover]," he added.
Comments (You are allowed to leave comments until 26 May 09)
Lady Azlynn Posted: 5 May 09 : 3.33PM
I'll wear black from head to toe on that day. But unfortunately my walking stick has to be white because it's called the white cane.
Izr Posted: 5 May 09 : 4.53PM
I think, we should also create a new song for 1 Black Malaysia. I'm pretty sure this year national tv will air a new song titled "1Malaysia"and BN supporters will be humming the song during Independence Day. Darn!
Antares Posted: 6 May 09 : 12.49AM
Damn Nazis nabbed Chin Huat to scare the rest of us. We'll see who has to stock up on adult diapers - BN or the Rakyat!
Eric Posted: 6 May 09 : 8.00AM
Chin Huat being arrested made my decision: I'm off to Ipoh!
I have an actual slogan for what we see shaping as Najib's premiership: "empty promises, indecision and police state". Sounds truer than the original, right?
Evenu Posted: 6 May 09 : 10.57AM
Now that Chin Huat has been detained in connection to the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign, we have all the more reason to wear black. The corrupt roam free, while those who question, who demand a cleaner, just, equal, progressive Malaysia, like Chin Huat, are detained. The last gasps of a dying beast, perhaps?
Concerned PJMalaysian Posted: 6 May 09 : 1.08PM
Will wear black on 7.5.09 to show solidarity with Wong Chin Huat. Do not let Wong Chin Huat suffer alone in saving this country of ours.
Karin Posted: 6 May 09 : 3.35PM
Join the Black Parade!
penang Posted: 7 May 09 : 4.08PM
Chin Huat, this is the guy from Penang.
I wear black head to toe today, and I am in Ipoh right now.
What has happened to you, and what is happening now in the Perak state assembly is totally sick and pathetic.
Malaysia is going the way of Thailand, where democracy is shot, and Barisan Nasional rules over the people by force.
Bersatu, people of Malaysia!
Gobi Krishnan Posted: 8 May 09 : 12.11AM
When the Sultan decides to your benefit, you say great King. But when he decides against you, you call him all kinds of names. Justice will prevail. Same like in Perak, where justice has finally prevailed with the BN takeover of the state government. You shall see the same happening in other states, which are now suffering under Pakatan Rakyat, in due course. Long Live the King.