My preliminary reading is they will. The Chinese will stay at home (or they will go shopping). Like any other big demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur since the 1998 “Reformasi Movement” the Chinese will stay at home despite Kuala Lumpur City being predominantly populated by the Chinese. I can say this rather authoritatively because I have participated in almost all of these demonstrations. I am the actual witness and I saw clearly with my own eyes the ethnic composition of the participants of these demonstrations.
From the first day Anwar Ibrahim was brought to court in September 1998 I was there on the streets waging a running battle (mostly running and not much battle actually) with the FRUs, the CIDs, the SBs and the Light Strike Force. I even went to Kamunting thrice to demonstrate infront of the famous Kem Tahanan Tanpa Bicara. You named it and most probably I was there in the midst of the spirited demonstration crowd.
Anwar judgement day demonstration, Black 14 series of demonstrations, Kesas Highway Perhimpunan 100,000 Rakyat demonstration, Free Judiciary demonstration, Press Freedom demonstration, Free ISA Detainees demonstration, PPSMI Demonstration, BERSIH 2008 Demonstration, HINDRAF Demonstration, Anti-War series of demonstration, May Day series of demonstration, Anti-ISA series of demonstration, Anti-Privatisation of water demonstration, Anti-Oil Price Hike demonstration, Anti-Price Hike demonstration and some other small scale street demonstration organized by student and youth groups and international issues street demonstrations. There were too many to remember.
From all these demostrations including the most recent two big demonstrations post-March 2008 election i.e. the Anti-ISA Demonstration in August 2009 and the Anti-Privatization of Water Demonstration in December 2010, I almost don’t see any Chinese in the crowd. This is not to say that there is no single Chinese soul in the demonstration. There were few of them of course but the number of Chinese participated in all these demonstrations were too low and too small that they almost cannot be seen. And I do not think this coming BERSIH 2.0 demonstration will be any different.
When I say they will stay home what I mean is that the big majority of them as a group will not go down to the street to demonstrate. This is not to say that the Chinese is not supportive of the BERSIH demonstration. Most of them I believed definitely support BERSIH 2.0 and rooting for fair and free elections. No qualms about this. Same with the previous anti-ISA demonstration or anti-privatization of water demonstration. Many of them I believed were supportive of all these demonstrations.
Most of the Chinese will give their support but their support will only be limited in the form of online support or press statement support or coffee shop talk kind of support or attending ceramah and political dinner rally to show their support or support through sending a lot of comments on Malaysiakini website or TheMalaysianInsider website or FreeMalaysia website or Malaysia-Today website. They will also show their support through online polls like the one that StarOnline did on BERSIH 2.0 demonstration, through facebook, twitter as well as statement from Chinese opposition parties leaders.
However when it comes to actually participating in the demonstration, protesting in real space not virtual space, from what I have witnessed in all of the demonstrations that I have actively participated in the past, it seems the Chinese community prefer to stay at home or probably go shopping.
When I said that the Chinese will probably choose to stay home rather then going down to the street demonstrating come this 9th of July, what I mean is that the Chinese as a group not as individuals. You won’t see them in big numbers visible as a group for this coming BERSIH 2.0 demonstration. That’s my reading which is based on my past experiences participating in all these demonstration.-Tuju Malbaru
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