October 27, 2008
Protestors at the White House
Leading up to the Elections on 4th November, one of the things that are escalating are the numbers of protestors outside the White House (the residence of the President of the United States, no less!). All across the light grey pavements and wide streets (closed off to cars), protestors wave banners and placards. They bash Bush policies, sing anti-war songs reminiscent of the 1970’s hippy era, and every other minute shout out “IMPEACH! IMPEACH!”. (This latter point is, of course, highly unnecessary since Bush is going to end his Presidential tenure very soon). These protests are invariably to link McCain with Bush’s policies. And this is Obama’s very campaign of late – “Just Like George Bush” is his latest rah-rah spiel. If you hated Bush (whose popularity ratings have fallen to an even lower all-time-low), you’re bound to hate McCain, is what he is saying.
All the protestors outside the White House this morning were of the Democrat campaign, sporting Obama-Biden banners and anti-McCain ones.
I couldn’t find a single pro-McCain banner here. The activists here accuse Bush of war crimes.. this coincides with Mahathir’s Perdana Leadership Foundation’s launching of the War Crimes Tribunal (Round 2) in KL. I have my reservations about the Tribunal, but the concept itself does reverberate even in America.
In the meantime, a man and lady (I wish I knew their names) have been protesting for a full 26 years without stopping, day and night! They take turns sleeping outside the White House, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Now that’s dedication. Some may find it fruitless, but they are merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. Nobody in the USA – the Law, the Congress, the Police, the Army, nor the President himself – can make them leave if they are not obstructing peace and security. And so they stay on, protesting the very institution of Government because they can. In a way, a constant symbol reminding people to keep a check and balance on the Authority.
Imagine how a protestor would be treated if he camped outside the Putrajaya buildings even for a day, protesting the draconian ISA law? This is a rare scene, where in Malaysia such blatant protests would be considered a “threat to national security”, and result in immediate arrests, reflective itself of the very unreasonable laws one is protesting in the first place. As long as they are done peaceably, there should be no reason to stop it. I envision a day freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed – just as it is supposed to be under Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution!