BERSIH3.0 at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur–April 28, 2012

April 24, 2012


Eyeball to eyeball: Who’s going to blink?

by Terence Netto@

COMMENT: “We were eyeball to eyeball and the other guy just blinked,” was the memorable remark by US Secretary of State Dean Rusk about the Cuban missile crisis exactly a half century ago.

Minus the cosmic implications of the United States confrontation with the Soviet Union then, Rusk’s metaphor serves nicely as description of the looming confrontation between BERSIH and the powers-that-be at the Dataran Merdeka on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

A clash had, initially, seemed avoidable.NONEThis was when Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (right) signaled a fortnight ago that BERSIH could go ahead with the planned protest, provided they staged it in a place other than Dataran Merdeka.

BERSIH co-chair Ambiga Seenivasan quickly demurred at the proviso.

When that demurral was met with the usual vituperative rejoinders from the anti-Ambiga claque found in sections of the government-controlled media, PERKASA, Hasan Ali’s JATI, latterly joined by disgruntled elements of PAS, things turned from the mildly promising to the dismally familiar.

Soon the recognisably dour patterns of the past reasserted its preponderance over the refreshingly new.The licensing authorities, after initially feinting in the direction of acquiescence, withdrew to the forbidding form of what one had – albeit feeble – grounds to hope was the past. Pretty soon, it became quite clear a dour entrenched legacy is difficult to shed overnight.

Expect a lockdown again  

In the last 24 hours, the Police have joined Kuala Lumpur City Hall in declining to give permission to BERSIH to hold their planned sit-down protest, called for 2pm on Saturday. From day one of their announcement that they would demonstrate, the BERSIH stance was that a right to stage a peaceful protest ought not to be made to abide by any abridgement.

Both KL City Hall and the police’s refusal to give the green light only means that the BERSIH demonstrators will go eyeball to eyeball with the Police, especially if the latter attempt to replicate the lockdown they imposed on central Kuala Lumpur on July 9 last year when BERSIH called a demonstration to press their agenda of electoral reform.

That lockdown and what happened as consequence have carved separate niches in local history.On the one hand, it taught the authorities a lesson – apparently, not well learnt – in the futility of countermanding popular protest.NONE

On the other hand, it left participants of the BERSIH-organised march with a feel for the power of Victor Hugo’s insight that greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.

Today BERSIH co-chair, national literary laureate Dato’ A Samad Said, insisted the protest would go ahead as planned at the Dataran, with or without the acquiescence of the authorities.

The die has been further cast with the announcement by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang that he will join the protest. He also urged party members to turn up in numbers.

It is a certainty that he will have the company of not only the top brass of his party, but also that of Pakatan Rakyat components DAP and PKR. So eyeball to eyeball it’s going to be.

Police may exhibit less crassness

Unless, of course, the Police are bluffing or BERSIH cannot summon the crowds they successfully did in November 2007, when the first edition of their push for polls reform took place in Kuala Lumpur, and last July 9, when they pulled off a repeat edition in the teeth of a massive Police shutdown of central KL.

Expect in the next 72 hours that protest plans by BERSIH would accelerate along careworn and confidential lines – certainly, on how the protest crowd is going to evade the Police barricades that are almost certain to be thrown around the approaches to Dataran Merdeka.

Because this BERSIH protest will be joined by the Himpunan Hijau movement set up by the anti-Lynas crowd, expect that vibrant young protesters would embroider the occasion with cameo roles as striking as Annie Ooi’s, dubbed the ‘Lady of Liberty’, after impressive pictures emerged of her inspiriting spontaneity.

Expect also that the Police would exhibit less crassness than they did the last time in the methods they choose as crowd deterrence.

NONEA reliance on tear gas would likely be de-emphasised as would be the rushing of milling concentrations of people because they make for image-damaging videos that will surely feature in the news bulletins of the international networks.

The Police would bend over backwards to prevent BERSIH’s third edition of their push for polls reform from becoming an international cause célèbre, like it did the last time.

It will be an eyeball to eyeball confrontation nevertheless, but this time with more wit on one side and less obtuseness on the other. Hopefully.

23 thoughts on “BERSIH3.0 at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur–April 28, 2012

  1. Who is going to blink? Neither side, because we have all become blind to the real needs of our country; and the popular aim of the organisers aside, political point-scoring will be the order of the day.

    The initial rally ought to have been held at a different venue… so should this. Political demands and wasteful demonstrations should not go together.

  2. What political point scoring (Isa Mantegi)? All Bersih demanded was to have clean and fair election. If nobody does anything about it, you expect everyone to just sit still and pretend everything is ok? Peaceful demonstration is a fundamental right to express dissatisfaction over things that are wrong or unjust so people are made aware of it. Consider this, if your son, who has worked very hard for an examination that will determine if he can be accepted into the university of his choice and hence his career/future, found out before the exam that many of his class mates will be given bonus points, for no reason whatever (please do not, like many Malay brethens, start to distort and turn this into a Malay/Bumiputra issue by rambling about quotas etc), will you, as a responsible father, just sit still and do nothing, since you have complained to the authorities and they did nothing?

  3. you are satisfied with your status quo, you don’t want it disturbed.
    what about the people who are sidelined? you don’t care?
    are they asking for too much, Isa Manteqi?
    listen to the Bersih 3.0 song

    the last amendments to the election process passed in parliament will ensure that umno-bn will win the election. even if by some fluke PR wins BN will not cede power. see

  4. “Both KL City Hall and the police’s refusal to give the green light only means that the BERSIH demonstrators will go eyeball to eyeball with the Police”

    Malaysians are the most docile lot. They will run helter skelter. Eye ball to eye ball?? I suppose so considering they normally leave their balls at home.

  5. Nobody is questioning the right of citizens to express dissent or demand reform. The methods so far used – holding public demonstrations in town centres – are not the best way to do this especially since alternative sites were and have been suggested.

    If the idea is to send a strong message to the authorities, this can be done from a stadium just as well as from right in the centre of the capital. It will also give the opposition a moral high ground to boot.

    The right to dissent is absolutely fundamental in any civilised society. But you cannot express that right by denying others theirs.

    Status quo? What status quo are we talking about?

  6. Such selfish attitude, thinking about self above nation. Teh tarek and tossai can get anywhere, anytime, Bersih 3.0 once in a life time experience. Teh tarek and tosai will remain but the future of the nation is at stake. Guess for some the teh tarek, tosai and dog day afternoon are more important than the future of the nation and the children and grandchildren. Perhaps the children and grandchildren deserve to be slaves due to the uncaring attitude of their parents and grandparents.

  7. rocky it si nice that you can have your teh tarik & tossai but allwo them to exercise their right too. In fact why dont you support them by buying them teh tarik too? Geez I miss food at home!

  8. because rocky whether you realise it or not now, they are fighting for you rights too but they are facing the thrashing on your behalf. So the least you can do is buy them teh tarik.

  9. T”he methods so far used – holding public demonstrations in town centres – are not the best way to do this especially since alternative sites were and have been suggested.” Isa Manteqi

    This is a case of manner, time and place discrimination and over here that would be unconstitutional – though not always. This is what we call view point discrimination. The government doesn’t like the message and acts to limit accessibility. Many would like to participate if it is held in a public park which is a public forum. In this case many would not make the journey to some stadium.

    If groups want to hold an event in Central Park the City would insist the use of the City’s technicians to control the noise (manner of speech) but Supreme Court rules this as constitutional.

  10. yes Isa, by sitting peacefully at Dataran Merdeka, they are going to deny million of people their rights.
    Rocky, they seemed not be able to read between the lines of what you posted. Or am I reading too much into your lines?

  11. OK so we have all the teh tarik and thosai comments as well as this bit about fighting for the rights of millions of Malaysians.

    Just imagine this scenario – quite possible soon. PR is in Putra Jaya and BN is the opposition. The opposition plan to hold a demonstration in the centre of KL. What would PR do?

    Just as an aside… according to a report today, the Taxi Drivers’ Association have requested that the proposed rally not be held as it would affect their work. I suppose they mean they will not be able to consume their daily teh tarik and thosai.

  12. next you’ll say hold the sit-in rally at Kamunting so if the need arise they just have open the gates and let the people, totally ISA-ed from Isa!
    my God, what brilliant idea!

  13. pardon..corr……….they just have to open the gate and let the people in..

    if BN is in the opposition and PR does’nt let them demonstrate then we’ll call a Bersih 3.1 and kich PRs ass. as simple as that! is that difficult to imagine?

  14. Who say fighting for the rights of millions? I couldn’t find that bit.

    And who cause the city to be in chaos (refering to the taxi drivers)? The sit-in crowd?
    No, the police!

  15. The BN opposition hold a demonstration in city centre. For what? For they lose the election? For they want to continue to plunder the wealth of Malaysia?
    Isa, your “scenario” is incomplete. How do people respond to that? Try again.

  16. “Just as an aside… according to a report today, the Taxi Drivers’ Association have requested that the proposed rally not be held as it would affect their work”

    If they could understand what freedom of speech, assembly and association is they wouldn’t be driving cabs for a living.

  17. Mr. BEAN : That is an insulting thing to say about ANY profession. I suppose that by extension you mean that those with six figure salaries are beacons of all that is correct.

  18. makcik, i think you’re being stupid. it is your country, the truth dispute in your FACE and you’re siding the government precisely UMNO because you’re one-sided. The truth that proved to you in picture form, in WORDS with all witnesses. So, if you’re standing at the BN side, please don’t leave ridiculous and such useless comments cause it brings your own morality no where, you’re just shaming ALL MALAYSIANS. BTW, Bersih isn’t going against the government, we just want to march to the king’s palace to let the state’s leader have a vision of the ‘GOOD’ political system that will lead MALAYSIA to bankRUP in 2019, before you even visualize VISION 2020….

  19. daniel, your question had the truth in it, so i think you should answer yourself. WE WANT A CLEAN ELECTION, we want the KING’s SUPPORT. this is why dataran merdeka and NOT YOUR HOUSE or any other place. if the government is serving the citizens GOOD, then BERSIH and clea election wouldn’t compromise with LYNAS PROTEST to MARCH… THE WORLD is WATCHING, no worries. i think we should let them go ahead, and the aftermath will be seen by worldwide. as i said, ‘the good will be the better when the truth prevail’ 🙂 TAKE CARE peeps

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