Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I walked with Himpuna Hijau

On Monday, 19th November, 2012, I walked with Himpunan Hijau: the Kuantan based Anti-Lynas group.

Himpunan Hijau is walking 300km from Kuantan to Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, objecting to the issuance of a license for LYNAS to operate their rare earth factory in Gebeng, Pahang. I drove over to Lancang together with Eddie on Sunday night with plans to join Himpunan Hijau on their 27km Lancang to Karak walk. We arrived at the rendevous point around midnight.

We found that the rendevous point is in fact the kampung home of a PKR party leader. All the walkers were already asleep, in the sitting room and dining room of this modest home. We were met by Sdr Wong who was also waiting for another two supporters who were on the way from Johore Baru.

Eddie and myself decided not to disturb the rest, so we slept in the car.

I was up by 6:00am when I heard vehicles arriving, ferrying the other walkers who were staying at another house nearby. By 7:00am, the whole compound was alive with activities.

One local supporter arrived with chilled birds-nest whilst breakfast of Nasi Lemak, tea and coffee also arrived.

By 8:00am everyone was awake and all ready to start day-7 of their 14day journey. Before this mornings walked we were told the significance of Lancang, the birth place of Mat Kilau; who stood up against the oppression of the British colonial powers.

This was an inspiration indeed for the walkers who than made out placards remembering Mat Kilau's struggles. The walk started at 9:30am after the DOA was read for the safety of all walkers. First stop was the ancestral home of Mat Kilau, now occupied by his grand children. The group made a symbolic stop here for a group photo.

The group of about 70 of mixed cultural backgroud, made periodic stops along the way to rest and for refreshments. I was most impressed and touched by the efforts of the course marshals and wardens who did everything they could to make the journey safe and pleasant for the walkers.

There were mineral water, isotonic drinks, bread and fruits placed along the way for the walkers. Even plastic garbage bags were there to ensure cleanliness and for recycling of mineral water bottles and tin cans. Simply perfect.

The morning part of the walk was very pleasant with nice cool weather and cloudy skies, by 11:30 the sun was out and thus the need for shade and straw hats made their appearance supplied by these angelic marshals. By the time we reached our LUNCH pit-stop, all the exposed parts of my body was red from the sun but not quite burnt yet.

Thus the bus stop provided great shelter for all of us and the toilet facility brought a smile to my tired face. We enjoyed a simple lunch of rice with chicken, meat and vegetables plus nice cold Herbal Tea provided by a local supporter. As we prepared to continue our journey to Karak, we could see dark clouds in the horizon.

With that sight, out came the rain coats, distributed by the ever smiling and encouraging marshals. With raincoats on, we continued walking and not long after we started, it poured: showers of blessings indeed. The rain and cooler temperature was a relief for me.

This afternoon leg of the journey was going to be more difficult as tiredness would surely come. My legs were beginning to be painful especially on my left inner thigh. The calf of both legs too were beginning to hurt and Perskindol muscle spray came-in really handy. We stopped for a short break some 6km from Karak town.

Here a group of about 30 people teenagers and middle age aunties all in their Anti Lynas T shirts welcomed us with more Herba Tea, Redbull and fresh coconut juice. At this point, I could no longer feel my legs anymore. The knowledge that our destination is just a little way ahead and the town people were already gathered to welcome us was an inspiration and a motivation to forget the pain, tiredness and to move on.

Our last stop before entering Karak town was about 1.5km away from our final destination of the day. This is a significant entrance as Karak is the hometown of Wong Tuck. We will be walking into Karak Town as one big united family, by this time our group had grown to about 100 with those that had joined us along the way. We kicked off this final lap with a rousing Hidup Suara Rakyat shout and onward we marched.

We also started this final leg with Suara Rakat Laungankan, Kilang Lynas Hancurkan, Lombong Cyanide Hancurkan, Sg Baram Kekalkan, Kita Bangkit dan Lawan and Kita Jalan dan Lawan! With this as our inspiration and motivation we walked into Karak Town full of pride and a great sense of achievement. The sight of the local crowd including children and the elderly brought tears to my eyes. We stopped at the gates of Wong Tuck's former school where the local representative garlanded their local hero.

And as we walked into town towards the Chinese Temple, residents lined the streets, shop keepers and customers came out of their shops, cheered and clapped their encouragement. We reached the temple grouds tired, hungry, relieved and satisfied. For me this has been one experience that I will ever forget. A 25km journey by foot in the company of great united friends and strangers who now become friends.

My little contributions towards a better future for Malaysia. Will a Better Malaysia remain just a dream, we will see. Will I walk again?

Yes indeed I will walk again with Himpunan Hijau this Saturday and Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and their final steps to Parliament.

Will you?

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