To my Bersih baby

A compilation of Facebook statuses to record the 4th Bersih rally, my first rally after RJ’s birth. Introduction to Bersih 4.0 by ANU lecturer Dr Gerhard Hoffstaedter (more reading available at the end of this article.)

RJ learning how to “guling”, hold up her 4 fingers

Dear baby,

During the first Bersih, I was 24 and a new lawyer too afraid to stand up for a cause.

During Bersih 2.0, I organised a group of friends to attend. We didn’t dare wear our yellow T-shirts, but brought it along and put it on after getting hit by water canons in Tung Shin.

During Bersih 3.0, I went with my housemates and met up with your daddy at Masjid Jamek in time to get gassed together. This was a month before his brain injury.

You were born, three years after that day, on 28 April.

Tomorrow, daddy and I have decided to leave you with your grandparents, while we go to Bersih 4.0.

We are older, slower, and have seen much more since then. Still, we will go. Why? Because we have so much hope for this nation and love for this land.

Because to keep hope alive, we must speak words of life and walk humbly.

Because the only way to teach you to be brave is for us to be strong and very courageous.

We will take a stand at such a time as this. We will speak up that justice and righteousness must rise in our nation. We walk tomorrow, so that you won’t have to in future.

I hope when you look back at history, what this generation fought for will not be in vain.

Let mercy and justice flow like a river.


(Ed: This story was picked up and published by the folks at Greater Malaysia)


10.30am, August 29 (Bersih 4.0, Day1)

Packed, on the way out of the house to drop anak off. Suddenly, she had a diaper emergency.

Er, sebelum bersihkan negara, kena bersihkan anak dulu…

I realise that personally, my MO for this rally changed a lot this time compared to all the previous ones.


11am, August 29 (Bersih 4.0, Day1)

So we were carrying all of RJ’s barang-barang to the car. The lift doors opened to reveal a lady around our age, carrying a little girl. Both were dressed in yellow. We smiled knowingly at each other.

Lady to us : “wow, everyone is wearing yellow today, ”
Me, nonchalant : “yeah”
Lady: “are you going to the rally? “
Husband, cautiously: “yes we are”
Lady: “my husband is already there. you gonna dump your baby with mother before you go to rally is it? ”
Me, surprised :” yeah, something like that… ”
Lady, nodding : “I wanted to do that but my mother doesn’t allow… “

Thank you parents for enabling us to do this.


7am, 30 August (Bersih 4.0, Day 2)

After scrolling the exciting Bersih updates for the past three hours and trying to calm an excited four-month-old, we put on our Bersih tees to head out to breakfast before church.

Husband happily hoisted baby over his shoulder as we exited the bedroom. We were discussing the impact of the rally and where to go for breakfast when, mid sentence, RJ vomited.

Oh well. There goes the Bersih shirt. Good thing we have a few…


11am, 30 August (Bersih 4.0, Day 2)

For some reason my short post about attending the rally got picked up by a portal (without asking for permission) yesterday. Although I’m embarrassed by the unwarranted attention, I’ve decided to let the post remain.

Because I believe that stories matter. I could write a thousand word essay about theories, but your eyes would glaze over. Instead, stories resonate with people, because it makes us recognise the humanity in each other.

Our story is not remarkable. We only asked our parents to babysit while we went to the rally for a few hours.

It pales in comparison with many friends who slept on cold tarmac along Jln TAR last night, including a certain 74 year old man.

Or the neighbour I wrote about who couldn’t go, but dressed her children in yellow and told them about it. Or the hawkers who couldn’t close their businesses to go, but donned Bersih4.0 tees while selling curry mee. Or those who disagree with the rally, but are willing to have a conversation with those who went.

Stories like this make us who we are, Malaysia. If all of us have that same passion and love for the nation, it doesn’t matter how you choose to express it. We can start (and continue) this national conversation, and the nation will be better for it.

What’s your story? Will you share it with someone, today? I would love to tell it to RJ.


On Bersih

From The Guardian (UK)
Al Jazeera Report
Coverage by The Wall Street Journal
No More Mr Nice Guy, says The Economist


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