Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yemenis admire Dr M and Malaysia

Sunday March 27, 2011

Photos by GLENN GUAN

And the 28-year-old tailor outdid himself. He stuck a number of small Yemeni flags on his head and wore a protest bandana as a tie.

The tailoring business has been a bit slow of late because people are uncertain of what would happen in the future so they have been holding on to their money.

Anti-government protesters chanting slogans and holding up placards during a demonstration at Tahrir Square demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana'a, Yemen, yesterday. - Glenn Guan/The Star

So Mohamed decided to come to the square and sell anti-government bandanas, caps, stickers and the country's flags.

“The protests are outpourings coming from the heart. So people are buying all these things as keepsakes to remember the moment,” he said.

One of those with anti-government protest souvenirs is 29-year-old Marwan Amery.

“It is a youth revolution. We want to make Yemen just like Malaysia.

“In just 10 years, we have seen how Malaysia has developed rapidly economically, in education, finance, tourism, and industries.

“Malaysians have gone all over the world to study and have come to their country with good thinking and good ideas' to contribute.

“We have watched Malaysia blossom and we want that for our own future. Is that too much to ask,” he said.

Marwan believed Malaysians owed it to all Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who during his 22-year tenure as Prime Minister, transformed Malaysia to the position it is today.

“Are Dr Mahathir Mohamad's ancestors from Yemen by any chance? Could they have come from Hadramont (in Yemen)? A lot of Malaysians have blood ties there,” asked a hopeful Marwan.

Yemenis as a whole have high regard for Malaysia and in particular Dr Mahathir.

Marwan wishes his own president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 32 years, would have done half as much for his country.

“Saleh has done nothing for us,” he said.

For him, Saleh and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are two sides of the same coin.

“But at least Gaddafi is consistent so his people know what they are dealing with.

“But Saleh is sly. He says one thing and does something else and he changes his word all the time.

“I think if Saleh is left to continue, in the future he can be as brutal as Gaddafi has been to his people. That is why we must get him out now,” he said.

It has been seven weeks now since the anti-government protesters have camped out at the square with the aim of kicking their president out.

And they seem to be closer to reaching their goal as ministers, ambassadors, and key army figures have now backed their protest, after the March 18 deadly attack when snipers on rooftops, loyal to the regime, shot at unarmed protesters, killing 56 and injuring hundreds of others.

Amar Attam is also keen on seeing the end of Saleh.

He said all the concessions Saleh was trying to make now including an early exit, early elections, offers of a dialogue, making sure he hands over power to “safe hands” were pointless.

“He didn't do good in his younger years and ruling the country for 32 years ... So I don't expect him to change and do good now in his later years.

“He is a liar and a murderer. Why couldn't we have a president like Dr Mahathir Mohamad?”

When pointed out that Dr Mahathir had little tolerance for anti-government street protests, Amar retorted: “If we had a democratic country and a leader like Dr Mahathir who cared for his people and made sure the country and its people prospered, then we would have no need for street protests!”

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