There are some who insist that a segment of Malaysians are out to tear Malaysia apart. They insist that stunts like the Bersih march bring disruption to city life and disrupts the peace and tranquillity of Malaysia. Worse there are individuals who feel that the status quo - Malaysia that is now is for them to protect and so they make police reports of this supposedly dangerous elements who call for peaceful protests and who encourage their twitter friends to attend the peaceful yellow rally. They see these inconvenient segment of the public as trouble causes and perhaps unpatriotic Malaysians.
In the 1950s America had segregation laws in many southern states. This segregation laws made it illegal for black Americans to eat, walk or take public transport together with white Americans. To many who grew up in the segregated America this was the norm. However there began a group of women in Montgomery who decided that this was wrong. Black people should not have to pay for their bus fares at the back of the bus and they did not have to give up their seat if a white American had no seat whether or not he was young or old. There were white drinking fountains and black drinking fountains, there were tables only for white people in some restaurants and there were colored seating in some restaurants. They began the Montgomery bus boycott which led to the arrests of Rosa Parks and other women which sparked the 250,000 people march through the Washington mall toward the Lincoln Memorial led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Were these Americans who marched through Washington DC unpatriotic subversive elements? A read of Martin Luther’s famous “I have a Dream” speech would show him to be a true believer of the American dream and a patriot at heart. In his speech he said; “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” Was it inconvenient and did it disrupt the peace of America in the summer of 1963? Of course it did. There were riots, there were police brutality and there were even some who made police reports about their fellow black brothers because they did not believe that this cause was worth fighting for. Afterall whats the big deal if they were treated as second class citizens at least they still have jobs and peace and a government that works. Its not worth protesting and disrupting business.
The truth is these men and women who bothered to stand up against the law of the land in the 1960s believed in their heart that this was an unjust and repressive law. Segregating citizens based on their skin colour was simply wrong eventhough it was the law of the land at that time. Where did they get this conviction that led to the famous Civil Rights movement that changed the shape of America forever? Believe it or not, it was a conviction based on the Bible that all man are created equal and that God shows no partiality. They acted on this believe and marched against Segregation Laws of their time. A Bible believing Christian always acts upon his or her Biblical conviction even if it goes against the law of the land. Asking fellow Christians to join in a peaceful protest for what he or she believes is being true to her own convictions.
My point is that criticising or marching against an unjust and repressive law is not unpatriotic at all. Simply put, patriotism is a love for the country and willingness to sacrifice for it. Those that decided to march on 9th of July for Free and Fair Elections were not unpatriotic. In fact they believed in the Malaysian dream set forth by our own founding fathers, heroes like Allahyarham Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar, a man before his time; and Allahyarham Tunku Abdul Rahman Bapak Malaysia. If they did not believe in Malaysia, they would have long join the thousands of people who have fled our shores in search of a better future. The truth is these people love Malaysia as much as those who oppose Bersih and they should be given the right to express themselves through peaceful protest as much as the Ibrahim Ali’s who speak venomous racism or the Mahathir Mohammad who fights against anything that moves and breathes. We should protect the minority as much as we do the majority and their right to peaceful protest.
Don’t confuse the sovereign state of Malaysia for any political party. Malaysia as an entity is larger than that. She is the millions of faces with diverse religious, political and social believes with each to be respected and cherished. We must not let any political party hijack this Malaysian agenda for their own existence. The goal is building a better Malaysia and it means listening to every segment of society and protecting their rights to speak and express themselves. Peace may not always be achievable, but by pursuing justice for all, I believe peace is inevitable.