May Day fiasco

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All over the world people gathered to celebrate Labour Day on 1 May. But in Malaysia, a group of barely 300 people was met with two water cannons and three riot police trucks, reports S D.

All over the world people gathered to celebrate Labour Day on 1 May. In Malaysia too, a group of us met and tried to bring various requests to the attention of the public. Nothing outrageous or particularly demanding – just better treatment for the lower income group in our country.

With all this hype on ‘caring’ and ‘1Malaysia’, surely a plea for better wages and just treatment is in line with what our government is talking about. And yet our group of barely 300 people was met with two water cannons and three FRU trucks filled with men in red.

The group that met had members from various NGOs, including a number of women’s groups and some individuals – and the walk had barely started when the police swooped down and arrested some of the leaders of the gathering.

What was even more mind boggling was that they also arrested a number of young people (a few were below 18) as they sat having breakfast in a coffee shop. They were told that they should not wear their red T-shirts and when the young people took off their red t-shirts – they were arrested!

Then our vigil outside the H S Lee Police Station started. We sat through a HOT afternoon and then got rained on in the evening. I finally started making my way home at 7.00pm – drenched and depressed: we have so little democratic space left in our country. The police are so unreasonable and biased; obviously some groups can meet (stomp on cow heads and make racist statements) while others cannot even walk peacefully.

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And yet I had a lot of time to look at the people around me.

They were of all sizes and shapes. The different races were present. Men and women – with quite a few senior citizens, boys and girls – some must still be studying.

They all surely had better things to do on a Sunday – cleaning house, spending time with family, shopping or just resting. And yet there they were sitting outside a police station not only because 20 of our comrades were being held but because there were principles that they believed in.

Perhaps there is hope for Malaysia after all.

S D is an Aliran member

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