428 BERSIH 3.0: Najib’s Huge Miscalculation Again

April 29, 2012

428 BERSIH 3.0: Najib’s Huge Miscalculation Again

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: For the second time in less than a year, the government of Najib Razak is staring at the consequences of a huge miscalculation of the public mood for change.

The misread this time could ratchet up pressure within his own party for the Prime Minister to do something drastic to pull his chestnuts out of the fire.

Either that or he faces the prospect, in the event of what is likely to be a tepid performance at the general election, of being asked to relinquish the UMNO presidency, just as his predecessor was compelled to, even before elections to its top posts are held.

The clock is winding down rapidly to both polls – the one must be held within a year and the other, less inflexible in its timeline, due for staging not much after.

The huge size, multiracial diversity and the relative youth of the crowds that electoral reform pressure group BERSIH succeeded in attracting to its protest yesterday is inevitably being read as a harbinger of results to come at the national polls and the UMNO one.

Barring of course electoral fraud, concern over which had driven the BERSIH protests over the last five years, the BN-led government of Najib is looking at a poor outing at the 13th general election.

After what had happened at the last general election, which was held a few months after the first BERSIH protest of November 10, 2007, followed by the Hindraf march 15 days later, observers are apt to extrapolate from the magnitude of protest rallies for a sense of what is to come when balloting begins.

Youth outsize presence

Credible estimates put the crowd at last July’s BERSIH 2.0 at 50,000, and the one yesterday at four times that number. These estimates are not easily verifiable, but observers recalled a palpable sense of a surging wave emanating from the crowds that showed up at the second BERSIH rally.

If last July’s protest was a torrent of popular sentiment for polls reform, yesterday’s demonstration was geyser-like in size and intensity. More ominous for the longevity of the ruling Najib-led BN coalition was the presence of large numbers of youth among the protesters.

The young are said to make up 70 percent of the 2.3 million new voters, up from the last election’s total of 10.5 million voters in all, on the Election Commission’s rolls.

This increase is being seen as pivotal to the outcome of the 13th general election.

No doubt the decision of Himpunan Hijau, the protest movement that grew out of opposition to the rare earth plant in Pahang, to make common cause with BERSIH had contributed to lowering the average age of participants at yesterday’s BERSIH protest.

Youth were conspicuous among the impressive crowds that had gathered at the Himpunan Hijau rally held in Kuantan earlier this year to protest the Lynas plant in Gebeng. Then, their outsize presence suggested that environmental issues weighed with them.

Yesterday, their evident enthusiasm and large prevalence among the crowds indicated that their concerns have since become more holistic.

Inflationary effect

Because crowds at public rallies have become an electoral weather vane, the size of the Bersih rallies of last July and yesterday will be read as indicative of what it to come at the general election.

Probably mindful of that, the Najib administration was anxious to avoid the impression of being extremely forbidding about the BERSIH 3.0 event when the advocacy group announced in early April that it intended to stage a protest over the inadequacy, or rather duplicity, of the government’s efforts at electoral reform.

By giving permission for the protest to be held but barring it from being held at BERSIH’s chosen venue – Dataran Merdeka – the government had hoped to take some of the wind out of the reform movement’s sails.

However, the public wrangling over the venue between the powers-that-be and BERSIH, not to mention recurrent controversies about phantom and illegal voter registrations, fanned the embers of discontent among BERSIH’s supporters.

Finally, two days before the scheduled protest, the disclosure that the EC chief and his deputy were members of UMNO was seen to have irretrievably contradicted the government’s avowals of genuine interest in polls reform.

That must have had an inflationary effect on the crowds’ determination to support electoral reform. The upshot was yesterday’s largest ever gathering in Kuala Lumpur for a political protest in decades.

Najib will now have to push the polls from what was lately bruited to be a date in June to months down the road, or conjure up nostrums to placate the deep veins of discontent that BERSIH and the opposition parties have tapped into. But things may just be too little too late.

9 thoughts on “428 BERSIH 3.0: Najib’s Huge Miscalculation Again

  1. Why can’t they allow Dataran Merdeka? Still I am the boss of the day mentality I guess… You take whatever I give and dont ask more…..

  2. The game is over for Mahathir, Daim, and their Umno/BN robber baron cronies. They were imbibers of the dregs of Malthusian and Keynesian economics burdened by an obsolete Newtonian worldview. Evolution favors the young and the young-at-heart!

  3. Or may be only members of the following are considered the one that will be “didahulukan” and be given whatever they ask for or even if you don’t , the Boss of the day will offer ..

    Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (UMNO)
    Persatuan Cina Malaysia (MCA)
    Kongres India Malaysia (MIC)
    Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan)
    Parti Progresif Penduduk (PPP)
    Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)
    Parti Rakyat Bersatu Sarawak (SUPP)
    Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)
    Parti Liberal Demokratik Sabah (LDP)
    Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS)
    Pertubuhan Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Bersatu (UPKO)
    Parti Demokratik Progresif Sarawak (SPDP)
    Parti Rakyat Sarawak

    and the rest please follow the rules and never ask for more…. otherwise you face the consequences…

  4. PM visiting injured policemen?? Najib emulating U.S. Presidents Bush and Obama in showing gratitude to injured U.S. soldiers back from the war, for putting themselves in harm’s way? Gimme a break Mr PM! Hooliganism among those entrusted with upholding law and order should not be rewarded. There are numerous public eye witness accounts of the excessive use of force by armed police irrespective of whether they were women members of the media who were there only to do their job, and old men and women who felt it their patriotic duty to add their voices to the politically weak and economically downtrodden and disenfrachised youth.

    In the case of returning U.S. soldiers injured from the war, they were fighting armed enemy combatants. Contrast that to those who appeared Saturday at Dataran Merdeka to demand fair elections who are not the enemy and who were only exercising their free speech right in a manner they feel would be effective in drawing the world’s attention – and for a fraction of one minute it did.

    It is disingenuous of you Mr PM.

  5. Gangsterism? Mana ada makcik?
    What we witnessed was called Crossing the Threshold of Hope, an encyclical by the late Pope John-Paul. You see we are all Catholics in the end. The word Catholic does not really mean a Christian denomination, but it’s Latin for ‘Universal’. Yes, when you punish and torture your opponents until they can’t breath, they will bite back. That’s the Universal truth. You may want to call it upholding the Law, but they insist on upholding Natural Justice. Now be a good makcik and go read the Koran..

  6. what actually went on at dataran merdeka? SSSShhhhh ! I’ll tell you !

    That old forgotten, togetherliness we had among malaysian many, many years ago, the malu-malu “where are you from?”, “how did you come here, naik apa?” “anak siapa nama”, “Umur berapa”, “sekolah dimana” sudah makan, nak minium air?” The a whole lot of boisterous bersih, bersih, bersih, BERSIH, BERSIH. tHEN AMONGST A LOT OF LAUGHTER AND GIGLLES, ” TANGGAL DUA PULUH LAPAN BULAN EMPAT 2012, BERSIH, BERSIH, SERSIH , BERSIH ……..”


    S P O I L T S P O R T S

  7. Can you tolerate another day an incumbent Gov’t BN/UMNO whose gratitude to you for electing them is: Manipulating, gerrymandering, hoodwinking, deceiving, controlling media and freedom, brutality, promoting racism, appointing & feeding cronies, massive purchases & projects with mulit-million kickbacks; plundering and mis-managed losses estimated to surpass US$100billion. US$100 billion is 100,000 million US$. All these for 55 years? No contest! Not another thought or word! Not another hour! Resign en mass or face prosecution! Or get voted out!

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