400 gather in spirited anti-ISA protest in Penang

400 gather in spirited anti-ISA protest in Penang

The enthusiastic participants of the vigil refused to go home after the “official” proceedings ended. Instead, many of them walked up to the pavement and chanted at passing motorists, who honked back loudly in support

Light in the darkness: This was a motivated crowd that included many first-timers

Some 400 people gathered in a spirited anti-ISA protest in Penang tonight. The event was held in an open space in front of the Dewan Sri Pinang facing Light Street and the Penang High Court buidling across the road. Many passing cars honked in support.

In the past, a similar vigil would have drawn perhaps 30-100 people, most of them the usual civil society “suspects”. This time about 400 turned up.

What was remarkable about this event – and it reflects how much Malaysian society has changed – was that there were many “first-timers” in the crowd. And they didn’t even look like activist-types. I met one mother, G, who had brought her daughter, a private college student, along for the vigil. “I want her to learn about larger issues,” said the mother.

I also ran into a group of three women, Cheryl and her two first-timer friends. And courageous blogger Daniel, who is battling cancer, and his partner.

Says blog-reader Romerz:

I was most amazed by the mix of the crowd. Halfway through the event, two Malay men, in their sarongs and skull caps, made their way in front of me and joined in.

They must have just come from breaking puasa and evening prayers to lend support to a noble COMMON cause.

The movement for change is strong on the ground and it cuts across all races and religions.

This is one of the rare occasions when I’m proud to be Malaysian and proud of my Malaysian brothers and sisters.

So these really were ordinary Malaysians – not the regular activist-types. But their enthusiasm matched or even surpassed that of the activists.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy addressing the crowd

A small group of vocal Hindraf supporters constantly reminded the crowd of the plight of the five detained Hindraf leaders, which Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy acknowledged in his address, much to their satisfaction.

The event was organised by Suaram with the participation of representatives from Aliran, Pekerja Tanjung, the Penang state government, the DAP, PKR, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Hindraf, Pas, the Women’s Centre for Change, Penang Watch, the Penang Office for Human Development and the Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (Seri).

Among those present were Suaram Penang coordinator Lau Shu Shi, Aliran president P Ramakrishnan, Aliran member Toh Kin Woon, Penang state exco member Chow Kon Yeow, PKR state assembly member Jason Ong, DAP leader Chong Eng and veteran blogger Lucia Lai.

Says blog reader Sujend:

I was there!!..it was nice too see people from all walks of life were there to support this cause!! :)

Making a surprise appearance was released ISA detainee Tan Hoon Cheng, who expressed her gratitude to all those who had supported her and her family during her recent ordeal. She said she would continue to be true to herself and committed to her work as a journalist.

Led by activists, the crowd chanted “Mansuhkan ISA!“, sang rousing songs, read out declarations while many passing cars honked in support.

The Aliran Singers leading the crowd in a couple of numbers

Next came the Aliran Singers, who led the crowd in adapted renditions of “We shall overcome” and “Lagu Rakyat“.

We shall overcome (3x), some day.

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

We’ll walk hand in hand (3x), some day…

The ISA must must go (3x), today

Justice will prevail (3x), some day…

***

Lagu Rakyat

Bertabah rakyat Malaysia

Kita mesti bersatu

Untuk rakyat dan negara

Kita berganding bahu

Kuasa di tangan rakyat

Jika saling membantu

Membina dunia baru

Yang adil dan bersatu

Chorus:

Kita tidak boleh undur

Tidak berasa ragu

ISA kita hapuskan

Ke hadapan kita maju

The crowd also chanted, “Free Raja Petra! Free Teresa Kok!” to which the Hindraf supporters reminded them,“Bebaskan pemimpin Hindraf!”

The official proceedings ended after hour an hour, and the organisers asked those present to disperse peacefully. But they refused to go home; instead they walked to the pavement by the main-road to carry on the slogan-chanting.

Hardly any uniformed police were present though plain-clothes police were spotted. But generally the police presence was hardly noticed. A couple of uniformed personnel only turned up 45 minutes later, when the crowd showed little inclination of heading home, caught up as they were in the excitement of waving to passing motorists and listening to and watching their contagious response. By then, traffic had slowed to a crawl as some motorists wound down their windows and waved or showed the thumbs-up sign; others blared their horns loudly and continuously.

After more pleadings by one of the organisers to “bersurai” – as the two uniformed cops walked up – the crowd finally “gave him chance” and dispersed without any incident. Penangites had made their voices heard – loudly, emphatically but peacefully – for 45 minutes in the heart of George Town.

More pictures here.

Meanwhile, over in KL, Nathaniel Tan reports on another vigil at Blog House:

Penang did a spectacular attendance of some 400 tonight too; we managed a quarter to half of that or so, but for something decided on about 6 hrs before its start time, I think KL-ites have a lot to be proud of :)

You brave souls defied the rain, and the police stationed outside to gather peacefully in solidarity with all those detained without trial; you bravely kept flames burning to banish the darkness that threatens to surround us all; you came together – from all races, religions, ages, and walks of life – to defend Malaysia in its hour of need.

Comments

comments

28 COMMENTS

  1. Its wonderful to see more Malaysians coming out to support as for too long we have kept silent out of fear or out of apathy.
    For the sake of our childrens future we need to come out and make a stand. I am proud to say I was there so were my friends in UK.
    For Evil to suceed good men & women say and do nothing. Men & Women in Europe & elsewhere gave their lives for freedom & justice to flourish for their future generations….the least any concerned Malaysian can do is at least join in the protest or even comment on the web or join an NGO or political party to bring REAL Change to end Corruption & Injustice. REFORMASI !

  2. Go Penangites!

    The voice of the people is the biggest voice. We were heard.

    If you look at the videos, the people were fearless. The ruling party should know that this anti-ISA sentiment is in the people’s blood. No amount of money can change that!

    This is a democratic country. Try as they may, if they do not start treating the Rakyat as they should, they are going down in the next election.

    Mark my word!

  3. I don’t know how a minister could reply “It’s for her safety.” Well all politicians are under the watchful eyes of the rakyat. Does that mean that the authorities should round up all the politicians (PM,DPM,Ministers,Y.B’s,MP and State Assembly and put them under I.S.A under protection? Please,Mr.Minister.Its high time you look yourself into the mirror of your 5 star toilet. We,Malaysians are united irrespective of our background, do not fear your draconian I.S.A laws. You can hold custody of 3 civilians under the false pretence of protecting their lives,but can you put 3 million civilians into Bukit Aman. Remember,Malaysia just celebrated its 51st Merdeka independence (note: should be 45th Anniversary on 16th September: not forgetting our brothers and sisters in East Malaysia). The rakyat are no longer in the kindergarten stage of infancy but matured adults who can think what is right and wrong.

  4. Go Penang.
    In PJ, my church had a one minute silence in solidarity for those who are unfairly denied their rights thru ISA, including the Hindraff fellas. We are a small church but we are very involved.

  5. i’m very proud of penang.
    if only i was not in KL, i would have loved to be there to witness the day penangites stood up to make themselves heard.

  6. Dear Anil,
    I have taken the liberty of posting one of the photographs above in my blog. The sight of the sea of candlelights in front of the Dewan Sri Pinang brought up a surge of emotion in me. I just have to share it with as many viewers as possible and hope that it will create the same feeling of unity and strength in all of us.

    The photograph is at http://betelnutchronicles.blogspot.com/2008/09/poem-of-mid-autumn-revolution.html

    Thanking you in advance
    Edmond R

  7. Gerakan, MCA & MIC – all have been castrated by Umno and now waiting for their fate.

    The raced based coalition is failing. When one party becomes too strong and the others are seen to be subservient, voters will desert the subservient parties.

    Instead of restoring the delicate balance in the coalition, Umno is moving in the opposite direction, pushing Malay hegemony for its survival and beating down support for their allies even further.

    BN is a sinking ship and Umno is not strong enough to govern alone. The result will have to be a sea change in the political landscape before things settle down.

  8. Yes a very good start to abolish this ISA. We must coordinate our efforts nationwide.
    1. Our immediate objective must be to get RPK, TK and not forgetting Hindraf to be released asap.
    2. The next objective is gather support to abolish the ISA.
    3. Ultimate objective to abolish the ISA.
    Next course of action.
    To pressure the Govt. by using all available avenues of influence locally and overseas.
    Locally Seek immediate support from
    1.NGOs,
    2.Professional bodies,
    3.Ministers who have voice against ISA.
    4.For that matter even ruling parties support. I am sure many are against such ridiculous and draconian action.
    .
    .
    .
    .I think there are alot of brains there who can fill in and surely might have already get the Ball rolling……

  9. This syed the botak Albar is of Yemeni origin and he is telling us malaysians what we can and cannot do. how ironic is that! This Khir Toyol who complained about teresa kok is of Javanese origin. how ironic is that! They are not even 5th or 6th generation malaysians and they are running our country as UMNO leaders! Wake up Malaysia!

  10. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!editor of m2day being kidnapped by ISA! not again! The govt is using intimidation against the rakyat, this is their only weaponm, Anwar takeover, use it back on the culprits!

  11. Not a peep from Gerakan, MCA or MIC in either Penang or KL, huh?

    Koh Tsu Koon, Ong (Kah Ting, Tee Keat, Kah Chuan or whoever is in charge of MCA now) & Samy Vellu ~ put you fingers on the pulse of the nation and open your eyes to see what’s going on.
    You could have gained some credibility back if you had stood with the ordinary rakyat last night.

  12. I’m getting more and more proud with Penangites. Brave souls! I wish I could return to my hometown, but participated in the vigils here in support :)

    The response to the ISA arrests this time is not cowed fear, but boldness. Good on you, Malaysians!

  13. ah the last pic of the ‘aliran singers’ was minus you, anil. guess you took the pic so you were not in. well i have one of all 3 of you on my blog (but my pictures not clear… it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer!).

    i must say i was surprised to see such a large turnout. i anticipated about 150 only. another surprise was the non presence of police… though when i first walked in, i did see only 2 policeman by the road-side. it was later when the crowd spilled on the pavement that we see several policeman. i hang around talking for quite a while after the crowd left and left about 10.30. when i passed by the sideroad of the dewan, i saw a police truck with about 10 policemen. but they were just hanging around i guess – luckily no disturb us.

  14. Dear Anil

    Please keep informing us about the latest developments in
    Penang.

    Truth and jutice will prevail!

  15. “We ARE NOT AFRAID(3X)today!
    Ohh…deeeeep in my heart, I do believe!
    We shall overcome, someday!”

    “We shall live in PEACE (3X)someday!
    Ohh…deeeeep in my heart, I do believe!
    We shall overcome, someday!

  16. good on u guys!!! keep up the spirit of our dear RPK, Teresa, & Hindraf, and all those unlawfully detained!

    well done! once again.

  17. […] did a spectacular attendance of some 400 tonight too; we managed a quarter to half of that or so, but for something decided on about 6 hrs […]

  18. I was most amazed by the mixture of the crowd. Halfway through the event, 2 Malay men, in their sarongs and skull caps made their way in front of me joined in.

    They must have just come from breaking puasa and evening prayers to lend support for a noble COMMON cause.

    The movement for change is strong on the ground and it cuts across all races and religions.

    This is one of the few rare occasions when I’m proud to be Malaysian and proud of my Malaysian brothers and sisters.

  19. Just back home from CLV at Bogger House at Damansara KL. Almost 100 ppl participated despite of the rain and short notice.

    Jom lakukan HARTAL untuk selamatkan negara tercinta ini.

    BEBASKAN SEMUA TAHANAN ISA SEKARANG!
    MANSUHKAN ISA SEKARANG!

    Let’s do HARTAL for our beloved country.

    FREE ALL ISA DETAINEES NOW!
    ABOLISH ISA NOW!

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