The reason I attended Bersih 3.0

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Here is a billboard ad for Gillian Wearing’s event at Whitechapel Gallery and it asked: “What are you actually thinking?”

Politics is very rarely within my radar (as much as I try to be passively involved). Joining Bersih 3.0 was just an instinct of knowing what is right to do. Almost like attending a party, to be perfectly honest. But when I saw this ad, I immediately knew the reason I joined the movement, even though I am away from Malaysia for about 6 years now.

Here, we are only human – no matter your occupation, skin colour, etc – but we also have a voice. We are assured we have our rights. I can even vote for the Mayor of London (which I will next week), although I am not a British citizen, knowing my vote plays a part.

I am grateful that I am given a voice. I might not speak the right things always but I learn to speak responsibly. Most importantly, I speak (and live) with dignity.

This morning, I was on my way to fight for my right as a Malaysian citizen, for my country Malaysia which is 8000 miles away. I, like all other Malaysians who love our home, just wanted to have a voice.

Let’s just say we forget about not being able to vote from overseas… We at least want our votes to really count. To really be able to make a difference. Otherwise, what is the point of loving and staying in the country but not feeling empowered?

So I joined the rally with the clearest intention:

Can we be given a voice?

(Note 1: After writing this I read a very similar letter by Yolanda who led the Bersih 3.0 London crowd today here… but of course she speaks much better!)

(Note 2: Bersih 3.0 in Kuala Lumpur might not have the happiest ending. I won’t blame solely on the police force/government as it must be understandable that there were some aggressive protesters. I don’t know the true stories – yet another flaw, of not having free media – but really, it doesn’t make Bersih all evil. We really just want one, simple, thing, first.)

The Easter Escapade

One day when I was doing my weekly cooking in a hurry, I suddenly realised that I have stopped living in the present. Perhaps, I have never lived in the present. Always thinking and planning for the future – the near future, the far future.

No wonder my brain always felt like it was going to explode.

So I went on an escapade.

In a Cornish city, I took all my time browsing for bags in my favourite shop, deciding which ones I like the most and didn’t buy any in the end. Then I went back to the B&B I stayed in – which turned out to be the home of the city mayor – and watched two episodes of The Apprentice and You’re Fired in the bed whilst eating dinner and chocolates.

(Shopping, eating and watching catch up TV in bed are luxuries I do during my holidays. That tells you something about my normal life!)

A year after getting my UK driving license, I finally picked up a rental car reserved under my name and drove it. Oh yes, I certainly stalled on a steep hill, went into the wrong lane, parked like a woman (it’s all about the stereotype!), and probably annoyed and confused all the cars behind me by speeding up and slowing down in the most inappropriate speed zones.
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But I also sang along the good old tunes as I drove – the songs that didn’t necessarily mean much but simply brought me into the fragmented memories of all the places I have been, people I was with and the emotions within.

GPS was switched off for most of the time, and I was free. So I chased the blue skies and white clouds; a viaduct; the ocean; the smell of freedom; the sun; and the sunset. I was free from time restrictions and the knowing, and took pleasure in discovering the places that no one would have gone if they were introduced black and white in a guidebook.
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How about a yacht harbour where rows of yachts lined up like soldiers on both sides of the path under the cloud-ridden sky; their names shone under the occasional ray of sun – “Polarbear”, “Hot Chocolate”, “Deltaskelta” – and they stood proud?

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How about driving north from a well-known surfers beach only to arrive at the next town that took my breath away as I stood on top of the cliff and the roaring waves were just there, under my feet; where surfers fought the chilliness of spring and swam against the strong currents, determined to ride the same waves that had beaten them down numerous times?

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How about getting into my car desperately at 7.50pm so I could drive to an isolated spot and quietly watch a sunset, which turned out to have ended much quicker than I thought, but just stunningly pure?

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How about going on a 2-hour walk along the countryside just because I paid the car parking fee? How about giggling at funny signs, tasting local produce, admiring charming cottages and luxury houses and trying to taking pictures of myself that would be proof of “I was here”?

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It was 2.5 days of wandering and letting go (plus perhaps 1.5 days of travelling on ridiculously slow trains) to fill me with energy and smile.

It is true. Travelling does something… magic, perhaps, and whoever said, “It is about the journey, not destination” was a genius.

Questions for “hip hop culture”

A brilliant piece by Birdgang Dance Company asked, “What is hip hop? Do I have to walk limping? Do I have to have a wardrobe full of trainers and caps? Do I have to switch lingos when I talk to my friends who embrace and do not embrace hip hop? Do I have to come from the streets to be the real hip hop? ….. Do I need to be, you know, black? If so, what shade should I go for?”
**The piece was performed in Cultural Explosions, and words are taken from my memory and not exact.**

Today I was told to understand the distinction between a Chav and an urban hip hop outfit.

Noun: chav
|chav|
Usage: UK
(informal) term for a person of working class origin, esp. one who is poorly educated, aggressive, or perceived to have poor taste or have an inferior lifestyle (usually derogatory)
≈oik, poor white trash, white trash
Derived
Noun: chavette
Adjective: chavvy
This definition is from WordWeb

That is the official definition which actually bear little resemblance to the beginnings of hip hop culture. But to me as a non-British, an outsider, chavs are those who are trying to be someone they are not just by talking about it and looking like it. (What happened to actually becoming it?)

Aren’t these what the commercialised hip hop steer you towards to? (“it’s about the trainers! Caps! Walking limping! Talk in a certain way!”)

99% of what I see everywhere “hip hop” are just the outer shell. How much of the real soul of hip hop culture do people now know? And what is the real soul of hip hop? You know, the real thing, the essence, the thing that defines you as part of the hip hop culture when you are quiet and naked? I don’t know.