My generation did, too.
In fairness, many then were taken in hook, line and sinker by mainstream news reporting, remembering that perhaps until Malaysiakini and other on online news portals brought the alternative news into our homes and offices, the MSM news was all we had.
These last 4 nights, spent at Dataran Merdeka, where a group of young university students have set up camp, demanding free education and an end to the government’s ‘PTPTN’ student loan program, has been truly inspirational for me.
On our behalf, they have reclaimed Dataran Merdeka.
Nightly, they hold their assemblies, deciding matters based on consensus, allowing for the fullest participation by anyone who will stand up to share his or her thoughts on the matter under discussion.
Last Sunday noon, I had the pleasure of watching these young Malaysians negotiate calmly and politely with DBKL officers who wanted them to vacate the site they were occupying.
When told that they required a permit from DBKL to set up tents on the site, they had one firm, categorical response.
Dataran Merdeka milik rakyat!
Since late Sunday afternoon through to last night, they have faced constant harassment from DBKL enforcement officers.
Tents have been damaged.
Some have gone missing.
Each time, well-wishers have brought more tents.
Along with food and other refreshments.
Students have been roughed up.
Through all this, they have been unwavering in their resolve.
They will continue to occupy Dataran until Najib or someone from the Ministry of Higher Education comes to see them on their grievances, failing which they will stay put until the BERSIH 3.0 DUDUK BANTAH rally on 28th April, 2012.
Last night, word was that DBKL would strike at 3am this morning.
Around 1am, this morning, I counted about 300 people at the Dataran to show solidarity with our brave students.
By 3am, the numbers had dwindled.
But the camp was safe.
I left the camp at almost 6am, content knowing that our brave young ones had prevailed another night.
I will continue to go to Dataran as often as I can.
I am contemplating getting my own tent and camping out there with our bravehearts for as long as they are there.
Maybe even up to the day of our BERSIH 3.0 rally.
First, to the extent it is at all possible, I want to try and atone for my past apathy. I want to join them in their effort to reclaim our lost democratic space. It is a noble effort.
More importantly, I want to learn democracy from tomorrow’s leaders.
Come see for yourself.