As early as 8 o’clock this morning, thousands and thousands of Malaysians began pouring into Kuala Lumpur’s city center from all over the country. From eight designated starting points, they slowly made their way to the iconic symbol of our country’s independence, the Stadium Merdeka, for a historical event, the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat or the People’s Uprising Rally which was organized by some NGO’s and Pakatan Rakyat.
Many came with salt, mineral water and towel, ready to face another round of tear gas and water cannon. Surprisingly, the police presence was minimal and there was a carnival atmosphere. Traders were doing good businesses selling T-shirts, souvenirs, foods and drinks around Stadium Merdeka.
Hundreds of thousands of people managed to pack into the Stadium and spent the hot afternoon listening to fiery speeches by the NGO’s and political leaders. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Ibans, Dayaks and the Orang Asal were all there. Young and old, male and female, came out in full force.
It was an afternoon very well spent. Malaysians of all creeds and faiths came together to demand a better future for themselves, their children and grandchildren. For those who could not squeeze into the Stadium, and their numbers were uncountable, they stood or sat outside, listening to the loud speakers placed all around the Stadium.
It is comforting to see total strangers standing or sitting together in solidarity. We were one people with one spirit. We were truly and proudly Anak-anak Bangsa Malaysia (Children of Malaysia). We clapped, we sang and we cheered with one voice. Everyone helped to pass mineral water around and we also donated money to cover the cost of renting the Stadium. Yes, we paid the organizers to attend, and not paid by them to attend.
Fifty-six years ago, on August 31st 1957, our parents were at the same Stadium when Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed “Merdeka” from the British. Today, it is our turn to be at the same venue to witness Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Pakatan Rakyat proclaimed “Merdeka, Rakyat” seven times consecutively.
The sea of yellow, green, red, orange and black began to disperse peacefully after singing our national anthem. The traffic police were on hand to control the traffic and there were no untoward accidents nor were there any arrests. The LRT and monorail stations were jammed pack with commuters around 5.30 p.m. as the sun began to set over the evening sky.
Syabas to all who came out to make this rally a great success.