August 27 was a Saturday. A normal Saturday where normal people were doing normal Saturday things – going out for brunch, lazing around in bed, walking around the shopping malls and heck, even catching Pokémons.
But in the heart of Kuala Lumpur city, a gathering was taking place.
More than a thousand students from several youth and student groups gathered in front of the Sogo shopping complex and the National Mosque.
At around 2pm, they started their long march towards Dataran Merdeka – the final destination of any planned rallies as the Freedom Square symbolises ‘freedom’ and ‘hope’.
Only this time, the rallygoers went home disappointed and maybe, deep down, they know that things will not change.
The #TangkapMO1 rally which took place last Saturday was organised by a coalition of student and youth groups, calling for the arrest of the “Malaysian Official 1” named in the recent United States’ Department of Justice (DoJ) civil suits seeking the seizure of assets linked to the troubled 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Targeting a turnout of 5,000 participants, only 1,000 students clad in black and white outfits turned up for the rally, according to a report by The New Straits Times.
Despite special appearances from several notable personalities such as PKR vice-president Tian Chua, Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, Bersih 2.0 resource person Hishamuddin Rais, Amanah communications director Khalid Abdul Samad and PSM chairman Dr Nasir Hashim, the #TangkapMO1 rally lacked ‘oomph’.
There was no Dr Mahathir giving inspiring speeches like he did during the Bersih 4.0 rally last year.
There weren’t any politicians holding hands and marching the streets together with the the rallygoers, like they did at Bersih 4.0.
Most importantly, the emotions and the anger that filled the streets last year were noticeably absent during last Saturday’s #TangkapMO1 rally.
No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that this rally would have the same effects as the Bersih rallies, sadly, the hype surrounding the rally proved to be just that; just hype.
However, that doesn’t mean that the students did not do a good job, though. In fact, we laud the organisers and the students for standing up against corruption, and for making their voices heard for the betterment of the country.
But due to the lack of experience and maybe, a lack of support from the revelant parties, their voices have fallen on deaf ears.
Despite having high hopes that the gathering would force the government into action, we hate to say this, but the rally was largely an uneventful and muted gathering.
After the dust settled, the rally turned out so markedly different than what was expected.
Because this time around, the rakyat has decided to stay home.
Could it be that they are sick and tired of rallies?
Could it be that they do not care about what the students are saying?
Or worse; have they accepted that no matter how many giant rallies we throw at the government, nothing is going to change?
No matter what the reason is, we can only hope that Malaysians will one day unite and make their voices heard again.
Every single one of us.