Monday, July 11, 2011

Auntie Bersih

When I first posted a picture of this diminutive woman, I didn't know her identity - except that like thousands of other Malaysians, she too was at the Bersih 2.0 rally on Saturday. But it tugged my heartstrings just to look at the photo because here was a frail figure, clad in yellow and determined to walk for a cause that must be close to her heart. Indeed, she represents the ordinary citizen. She is a member of the silent majority. She is a Malaysian who cares deeply about her country.

I didn't want to put her photo amongst all the others that I have uploaded on the Bersih 2.0 rally because it was an evocative portrait that said something important but I couldn't figure it out at that time. All I knew was that this impressionable image was already embedded in my mind and it stayed there. It has caused me to stop and ponder, to reflect and contemplate. It sent me a stirring message that this one person was prepared to make the journey into the heart of the city just so she can show solidarity and support for the Bersih cause. And so, without really knowing it, I gave her prominence in my 09:55 PM posting on Saturday - this solitary woman in a single photo that loudly speaks of courage; a picture of an elderly woman drenched in rain and chemical-laced water, walking away from the police and clutching a long-stemmed flower and a near-empty mineral water bottle.

It was only when I came across her Facebook page yesterday and then this morning, The Malaysian Insider featured her - that I came to know about this courageous woman named Annie Ooi Siew Lan, a 65-year old retired English teacher. She had taken a bus from Setapak to the General Hospital, and then walked to Chow Kit, onto Maju Junction, side-stepped into the back lane of Little India to pass Masjid Jamek and onwards, before she was stopped at Dayabumi. Here, she was questioned by a uniformed police officer and four others in plainclothes as to why she was dressed in yellow. And she responded bravely, "Why can't I wear yellow?"

Ambrose Redmoon said it very well: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear".


Michael Flynn said...

Good luck to you Auntie Bersih...I saw your brave peaceful protest on Aljazeera and was inspired by your courage. Good luck on getting electoral reform in Malaysia. Michael Flynn. Phuket, Thailand.

Elvin said...

Lots of people think that Daring to do or say their thoughts means that they should be approved but I beg to differ. This same lady was reported to have aired her objections in a public hearing chaired by the PSD chairman but alas, she can't offer any solution to the very problem that she raised. All of us want the problem resolved and if you don't know how, speak humbly lah. Instead, she shot back at the minister without any regret, saying she won't tell him what to do. It is up to him to think. This tone denotes lack of kindness. Isn't he too is a Malaysian looking at the same problem? Is she witholding the solution? She didn't sound right there.