Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Permatang Pauh: Semboyan Telah Berbunyi!

27 August 2008. It's the morning after the landmark Permatang Pauh by-election. The feeling is one of euphoria - that we had prevailed despite the obstacles placed before us, that we had remained united despite the provocations and threats - both veiled and otherwise. Truly, in many ways - this is the people's victory.

Last night I felt positively privileged to be at the Tunku Bainun Teachers' Training College in Berapit, Bukit Mertajam together with my fellow Malaysians. Never have I felt so passionate about being a Malaysian than last night. For last night we told and showed whoever cared to listen that the tides had changed. Malaysia will never be the same again. For the better.

The cool and cloudy night was a pleasant respite from the rain that had been plaguing the area for the past few days. Hordes of others had been there well before us. The groundswell was close to 20,000. Pakciks and makciks, little ones with their parents in tow, urban folk and kampung folk, Chinese, Malays, Indians, mixed, outstation people and locals, you name it - we were there.

I had three friends who had come all the way from Klang just to be part of the historic process - though never in their wildest dreams did they expect such a resounding win. Where we were standing, soaking in the atmosphere, we were delightfully entertained by an elderly gentleman who revealed that he had been Anwar's teacher way back then. He had come from K.L. with his wife and a couple of friends, one of whom happened to be Anwar's classmate. He quipped, "Now, you know....Anwar always paid his school fees on time.... but Khairy is still paying his!" And this: "Today, we have all become Malaysians".

When the "official" count was finally revealed at around 10.10 p.m., we had been there for a good 3 hours already. Why it took the EC to take so long to declare the final tally - considering it was just one miserable by-election, only they know. Sour grapes? - maybe. Still in denial mode - definitely!

The crowd continued to wait for another hour or so. Interspersed with the chants of "RE-FOR-MA-SI!" was an intrepid rendition of Negara Ku and a rousing version of "Perajurit Tanah Air" - the national patriotic song we used to sing in school but sung now like I've never heard before! I couldn't sing after the first verse - I was too choked up with emotion. Lyrics produced below:

Inilah barisan kita,
Yang ikhlas berjuang.
Siap sedia berkorban,
Untuk ibu pertiwi!
Sebelum kita berjaya,
Jangan harap kami pulang!
Inilah sumpah pendekar kita,
Menuju medan bakti!
Andai kata kami gugur semua,
Taburlah bunga di atas pusara.
Kami mohon doa,
Malaysia berjaya!
Semboyan telah berbunyi,
Menuju medan bakti!
The English translation goes like this:
These are our lines and ranks
Who fight sincerely
We are prepared to sacrifice our lives
For our motherland!
Lest we succeed
Don't even hope for our return!
This be the oath of our warriors,
As we march onwards to the battlefield!
Should we all perish,
Scatter then flowers on our graves.
We pray
For Malaysia to succeed!
The bugle has sounded,
As we march onwards, to the battlefield!
If indeed we have to "sumpah" anything, this is what we need to "sumpah" - that we won't return unless we succeed. The clarion has sounded. Permatang Pauh - mission accomplished. Putrajaya beckons! We have won the battle. Now we must go on and win the "war".

Merdeka Malaysia!