September 26, 2007
Walk to Justice
(pic from Malaysiakini.com)
Today was an historic day. Voices echoed round Putrajaya. Ground shook. Hearts moved. Something has started.
I participated in the Malaysian Bar-organised “Walk to Justice” march in Putrajaya. About 2000 people (mainly lawyers) were gathered at the steps of the Palace of Justice, to march to the Prime Minister’s office to submit a memorandum to Cabinet on the independence of the Judiciary.
Two memorandums were submitted, one to demand a Royal Commission be set up to inquire after the appointment of the current Chief Justice, Tun Fairuz, after the recent controversial video clip was released. The second was to urge the setting up of an independent Judicial Selection Committee. (yes, the current appointment of judges is not done in an open, transparent manner…)
We gathered at 10am (I was there early, and thought that there may be more FRU police members than participants in the gathering, thank goodness I was wrong). The crowds starting trickling in at 11am, mainly dressed in penguin suits, black and white, the lawyer colours. I followed suit.
By 11.30am, we realised that the 7 buses carrying the lawyers from Bar Council were missing – the police had stopped them from entering Putrajaya from the main road itself. They eventually had to walk 5km just to reach us at the Palace of Justice itself. Kudos to them!
The walk was wonderful. There was an energy pulsating throughout the crowd, seeing the blacks and whites walking in cohesion together in throngs, under the cool morning sky. Weather was perfect, not harsh at all, as we walked calmly amidst honking cars (and a bus too!) that gave us support and thumbs up. Only visual intimidation was apparent through FRU trucks and policemen on alert, plus a hovering helicopter above us. (Some imagined that they were the ones doing cloud-seeding to make the rain come!)
Reaching the premises and lawn of the PM’s office, I remarked that we were treading upon the Prime Minister’s garden – the response to which was, “This is being paid for by us, the people.” – in true activist spirit.
Waiting for the Bar Council’s office bearers to return from their sojourn within the royal rooms of the PM, the crowd (in dignity) shouted various responses like, We want justice… and I indignantly said “Malaysians” to the “Who are we?” calls. Because, it is all Malaysians who want justice – not just lawyers. Plus, I am representing the public, the citizen, the people.
Thunder rolled and the rain came tumbling down in large, cool drops. And the people stood firm, many getting soaked in the process. Protest banners were inverted as umbrellas, and many other mini umbrellas popped up that were originally to prevent the sun’s harsh rays from tanning our already brown skin. (Little crowds of black and whites gathered in “kelompok” at the foot of the humongous flag poles on the lawn, which had tiny covering – reminding me of antibodies rushing to attack a virus – hopefully symbolic of justice attacking the corrupt in the nation.)
The rain, we joked, was the washing away of the dirt, the old, the corrupt, of the system. A cleansing ritual necessary for the nation to wake up and wash out. It was refreshing. I lifted my face to the clouds and wondered whether God was testing us, or being humorous. Or whether the bomohs were doing their job to instead wash away the lawyers. Whichever the case, this was a momentous day. People travelled all the way from Penang, Melaka, for this.
The tide has turned. Paradigm shifts I hope. Little steps that will lead the walk to justice.
In Ambiga’s words, I hope our walk to justice will not be like Mandela’s “long walk to freedom”.
We must, we must, carry on the journey. Take the torch and pass it on. This is the message.
Other blogs’ stories, pictures and videos:
http://www.malaysiakini.com (of course)
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