One of the things I like about protests are the signs.
This refers to the Home Ministry’s petty law gazetted on Friday to ban all yellow t-shirts with the word Bersih 4 on it. Walking around KL, or if you used the public transport over the weekends, you would see the level of civil disobedience. This also reminds of me V for Vendetta: “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”
Remember, civil disobedience is a hallmark of democracy. “Donation,” probably less so.
And yes, protests require stamina, especially for Bersih-style protests. Mentally, we had to prepare for tear gas. A lot of running. And of course, strong arms to hold up the signs. See the sign next to the yellow one? Have some sympathy for him please!
Others are… well. Snarky.
Bersih is not about toppling the government, although no doubt many if not the majority wants the corrupt man to step down and face a proper court of justice. We ain’t seeking a revolution kid, but we want change nonetheless. So, the “Bye Najib” sign is a hilarious interpretation of that sentiment.
The tildes add to the effect. Hahaha.
Some are more direct in their anger.
For the man of doublespeak, this needs no description at all.
There were signs with coarse language. I could not point my camera fast enough to shoot it. The streets were packed with people, filled with vuvuzela noise courtesy of the South African World Cup and I had to watch where I was going.
Make no mistake, this was a peaceful protest (I hate the word rally. I am a purist and I will use the exact word to describe this: it was a protest). But, those here on the streets were angry.
The shimmering anger makes a hand-off police attitude a must. Any intervention will lead to chaos. This is true for all past Bersih protests. Hell came down only after the first tear gas was shot. I have been teared gas before. It hurts. It irritates the skin, it feels like chili in your eyes, you will have trouble breathing. It weakens you. If your mind loses control over your senses, panic will strike soon after. But, it also turns you into a hulk as soon as you recover. It is scary the first time but the next time, you are prepared for it.
Remember, this is a protest led by the middle class. The first time might be a nightmare for naive men and women on the streets. But the next time, the confrontation tactics will be more sophisticated. We are not sheep to the wolves.
But I am going off the rail.
Back to the signs!
For king of U-turns and for the king of changing stories.
I have to explain this a little bit. Gostan is a funny Malay word originating from English. Apparently, it is a corruption of “go astern” (who on earth would tell a driver to go astern I have no idea).
Here is for the I love PM crowd.
While most signs are for the register of protest, others are more utilitarian.
Bersih organizers were recruiting volunteers to pick up the trash left behind, and demanding participants to be responsible. Do not be a litterbug. We want a clean government and a clean street. You there! What are you doing? Pick up your trash!
Also, it will be very instructive to observe the level cleanliness during Bersih and that during the August 31 celebration. I write so because detractors say Bersih would leave behind trash, but the truth is, they do not really care and making issues out of nothing. They would not care about the trash left behind during other government-sanctioned major events.
Hell, do these people clean their treys and table when they eat at McDonald’s? They would leave their rubbish behind.
This one is for the police.
It is an appeal for the police not to use force against the protesters, arguing that a clean government is for the family of these men and women in blues too.
And… do you hear the people sing?
Well, not really, but you know.
This one asks, where is democracy?
At least I think so. That is a non-standard Malay, likely more Iban or Sarawak-based. Actually, I am not sure whether my translation is correct.
There were multiple guerrilla-style notification posters. These two informed protesters where to gather and who to call in times of troubles.
I need to go. So I will end this with a vandalism unlikely done by Bersih participants.
Keep our city clean.