Transforming sorrow and anger into People’s Power
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Flanked by Pakatan Rakyat leaders, Soh Cher Wei addresses the crowd. – Picture by Choo Choy May
By Debra Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 – Teoh Beng Hock’s fiancee Soh Cher Wei, two months pregnant, stepped on the stage at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night, looking pale but bright eyed.
The crowd packed into the hall leapt to their feet and gave her a standing ovation.
Surrounded by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders on both sides, the 28-year-old looked straight out at the crowd and spoke, in Mandarin, steadily and clearly: “I can do nothing more for Teoh Beng Hock but I’ll take care of his child. Thank you.”
Soh stepped off the stage, head held high, followed by the crowd’s thunderous applause in support of the steadfast school teacher.
By the stage, roses and chrysanthemums were beginning to droop in the heat. Their delicate petals – white and yellow – bruised easily, releasing a sweet, heavy, heady perfume that also smelled a little sickly with the thousands that thronged the hall here last night in memory of Teoh, the DAP political aide who was found dead last week outside the national anti-graft body’s office.
Many who came did not seem to know Teoh personally. When asked, they shook their heads, no.
Why did they come? They came to show they were angry, said those who wore something black – shirts, tee-shirts, blouses, pants, a headscarf.
Because they were sad, said those who dressed in other colours. They came because there were so many questions unanswered.
How could a 30-year-old man who was going to get married die suddenly? Why was he held for so many hours for questioning? Why is the “go’men” always doing this?
Before Teoh’s fiancee took the stage, the master of ceremonies also read out a personal letter she had first dedicated to her dead husband-to-be at his funeral, promising to marry him even if they were now living in separate worlds.
The crowd had earlier listened to the impassioned speeches of the politicians blaming the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
Many stood up and pumped their fists in agreement, especially when veteran politician Lim Kit Siang called on them to stand up and let the media photographers snap their pictures protesting the Cabinet’s move to hold separately investigations into Teoh’s death and into the way the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) interrogated him.
Lim had earlier mocked the Cabinet decision on Wednesday to let a magistrate’s court carry out an inquest instead of getting the royal commission of inquiry, which they had also agreed to set up soon, to handle everything, from Teoh’s death to possible procedural abuses by the MACC.
He noted that if the people had no confidence in high court judges and federal judges, what more magistrates under pressure from the BN government?
“They are asking for the moon!” he cried, referring to the Cabinet members.
“We must dare to be sad and dare to be angry,” the DAP parliamentary leader said.
“But we must translate our sorrow and anger into People’s Power,” he added.
“Then at the next elections, these people who refuse to listen to the voice of the people to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock will descend into the dustbin of history!” he concluded.
As one, the crowd roared their approval.