Last Saturday I went to my first ever rally: the ‘Hari Kebangkitan Rakyat 2013’, better known in the social media sphere as ‘#KL112’, held at Stadium Merdeka. The idea was to gather everyone with legitimate frustrations under one roof and show solidarity with others who are also equally frustrated about something, somewhere, somehow.
It was not quite what I expected it to be. First of all, I was already late. I only took the train to the rally around 4pm. I heard people started gathering since earlier in the morning. When I reached the Pasar Seni station, it was an all-yellow affair. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought it was the National Day celebration. I’m sure some tourists I saw thought of the same thing.
People were swarming Masjid Negara, the road leading to Padang Merdeka was closed shut with probably hundreds of police officers guarding the area. Ironically, the area was not even the site where the rally was officially held. Still, people in yellow gathered on both ends of the heavily guarded Padang Merdeka with the officers just standing there right in the middle of it surrounded by banners that thanked everyone for not holding any illegal rallies in the vicinity.
I then walked to Stadium Merdeka to where the real action was. Along the way through Jalan Masjid Jamek and Jalan Bukit Bintang, there were more rally-goers, honking each other on the roads, smiling and dancing. When I reached Stadium Merdeka, the crowd was unbelievable. Imagine a stadium with a seating capacity of 40,000 being filled well beyond this. The crowd spilled onto the field itself, on top of ledges, in the parking lot, inside and out. It was a yellow celebration of frustration.
People took pictures, talked to each other, and just basked in their solidarity. There were parked busses outside that had transported people all the way from the East Coast. There were accents you couldn’t understand and people who rallied for causes you have never even heard of. Even the police officers who were stationed there assisted with the rally and crowd control when it was over around 7pm.
It was priceless to stand in the crowd and sing Negaraku along with literally everyone; all races and religion in the place where Independence of the country was announced. If the gathering was any indication of our progress in appreciating our fundamental rights, I would guess that we are heading somewhere better in the future. Whatever numbers are thrown around by the media, it really means nothing when you are amongst the crowd smiling and cheering on. I thank everyone who made my day that Saturday.
Abdul Qayyum Jumadi is Poskod.my’s Writer in Progress. In his free time he struggles to finish tutorials and prepare for exams. Most other times he just gets lost, writes short stories, and eats. You can follow him on Twitter @qayzr.