Post 428 BERSIH3.0 Rally: Sympathy and Stridency

April 30, 2012

Post 428 BERSIH3.0 Rally:  Sympathy and Stridency

by Terence Netto @ an Undisclosed Press Bunker@

COMMENT There you have it: Within a day of perhaps the biggest political demonstration ever held in Kuala Lumpur, the three horsemen of the government’s early response system have spoken – two opting for sedation and one for stridency.

radzi razak najib 290412Press reports capture Prime Minister Najib Razak, on a sympathy visit to the injured, leaning close to a recovering journalist to whisper a variation of what he must have told Teoh Beng Hock’s family when he empathised with them after the tragedy of the young DAP aide’s death three years ago.

His cousin, the Home Affairs Minister, who possesses a disconcerting ability to mix bizarre logic with bromides, joined in the tranquilising mission.

But Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin stayed true to his right-wing image, taking a strident stance towards all and sundry. He squarely blamed Ambiga Sreenevasan, the BERSIH co-chair, for the violent incidents that marred the tail-end of the demonstration on Saturday, and generally took an expansive view of the responsibility he would otherwise reject if, by extension, it were suggested that the onus for the catastrophic national cattle-breeding project is his because he held the watch at the Agricultural Ministry when the scheme was approved.

Playing the blame game to the hilt

However, it was not just two parts, sympathy and one part stridency that summed up the government’s initial response.

Saifuddin Abdullah, for some time now almost alone among the UMNO leadership cohort in willingness to engage with the issues, could not play the ostrich against the salience of BERSIH 3.0.

“BN must be very careful in addressing this,” counseled the urbane NONEintellectual Deputy Higher Education Minister yesterday, obviously unable to avert his gaze from the magnitude of the BERSIH crowds.

However, Saifuddin has not been known to take the unconventional thinking he occasionally squirts beyond a certain point. Though he appears to possess a willingness to engage with issues impliedly raised by the size, multiracial diversity and relative youth of the throngs at the BERSIH 3.0 protest, an innate caution tempers his spirit.

It is a safe bet, then, that the government will play the blame game to the hilt, rounding-in on responsibility for the skirmishes between protesters and Police that occurred at the end of last Saturday’s protest.

BERSIH will be blamed and Ambiga will be made the scapegoat because her stature as a former Bar Council chief and her gender have helped to engender that other striking feature of the BERSIH crowds: the high prevalence of women.

Sheer size of the protest

The crowds’ multiracial diversity, its youth and its high female composition, not to mention the overall magnitude of the throng, in combination, made the third edition of BERSIH’s now five-year push for electoral reform a spectacle on the scale of the packed amphitheater from Roman times.

In other words, BERSIH 3.0 was not just an escalation in the physical scale of its predecessors, BERSIH 2.0 in July 2011 and BERSIH 1.0 in November 2007, it was an agglomeration of the streams of open public discontent that have been welling up over a long time in the Malaysian body politic.

NONEFaced with the protest public theatre of this scale, a government that tetchily focuses on incidents that were sporadic rather than characteristic of the occasion is one that is out to evade rather than grapple with the underlying issues.

When you configure into the Kuala Lumpur spectacle of BERSIH 3.0 the simultaneous organisation of protest gatherings in several cities in the country and in the rest of the world where Malaysians are domiciled, and consider the peaceful conduct of all the protests bar one (and that too at its fag end), it is stupefying to play the blame game over responsibility for the violence of a straggling few.

But that seems the intent of the Deputy Prime Minister who if he persists with the blame card will only transform the public relations disaster for the government that BERSIH 2.0 was last July into the catastrophe that BERSIH 3.0 has still the potential to be.

A government that only wants to treat with the symptoms of the multiple problems it faces and not with its underlying causes is one that is dangerously exhibiting a sleepwalker’s insulation from reality. It is not a helpful attitude at any time, least of all when an election impends.

Remembering Professor Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train

44 thoughts on “Post 428 BERSIH3.0 Rally: Sympathy and Stridency

  1. Everyone has a point to make and I respect them. If the government had been fair, not corrupt, no cronyism, no nepotism, etc. and listened to the people, that BERSIH 3.0 Rally would never happen. I was there to cover the event and not to participate in the BERSIH 3.0 Rally.

    So, it’s time for the government to do something right, they cannot let the people continue living with their frustrations.

    It’s up to them (the government), they know what’s right and what’s not right to do.

  2. hak55, why is it so difficult for you to say that you are a BERSIH supporter? Aren’t you in favour of free and fair elections? I was there for 2 hours because I believe in BERSIH’s cause. I want a truly democratic Malaysia, not an autocracy.-Din Merican

  3. The government is so scared of its own shadows that they dispatched spies to spy on people rallying overseas. Government officers or spies as I would call them are required to send reports on what they’ve seen. It’s disgusting. Sending officers hundreds of miles away just for this mission is a very blatant abuse of taxpayers money. These people have no respect for people’s rights.

  4. I’m proud to be one of those rallying for Bersih. There were no problems with people rallying overseas. That’s because no agent provocateurs were present.

  5. Wonder what’s this no-bola PM trying to prove? Wanna win some brownie points? What for? He should have brought Rosie along so she too could pick some points. Too late lah!!!

  6. Was the PM sympathic to Kugan, TBH and Ahmad Sarbarni? PM should taking acting classess to be more convincing.

  7. The 5,000-odd Perakeans who were at Polo Ground on Saturday, April 28 created history of sorts because they were there for a reason – to make their demand for electoral reforms known. They came not for a free nasi bungkus or a free T-shirt, they were there on their own free will. Kudos to these brave fellas.

    True what what Hak 55 and Lok 1 had said (another tread). It did it not occur to me too that one day soldiers and policemen would be used to harm the very people they are tasked to protect.

    I was around during May 13 of 1969 but the Rangers were never sent to Kg Baru for obvious reasons. I was stationed at Wardieburn Camp, KL during the student riots of 1972 we were only deployed as back-up for the KL Police.

    My company was responsible for Sentul and areas around Batu Road and Campbell Street. I established good rapport with the OCPD, one guy by the name of Suleiman Babjee. Wonder where he is today?

  8. Kudos to the Perakeans. You have shown what it means to be democratic. You should lead M’sia. The police force there should be given a pay rise because they know they are part of the community. Isnt that the Peelian principle of policing. Or does M’sia operate on different policing principles. The Police are part of the community. They trusted their own. They are not separate and therefore must proudly take care of our citizens ESPECIALLY when the citizen has something to say or when governments try to silence the people. The Police are NOT there for the public servants, they are there for the people, they exist for the people.

    Dato’, you have made a damn great observation. We all need to support the intention of BERSIH to clean up the KOTOR.

  9. Why kind of apology Jibby is trying to convey by “whispering”? A total insincere and cowardice act of a PM. Mungkin ini caranya si bangsawan minta maaf.

  10. The whole nation is asking this same question!!

    In the Malaysian Parliament recently, an UMNO MP during his speech told a

    “There was a father who gave RM100/- each to his 3 sons and asked them to buy things and fill up a room completely.

    First son bought hay for RM100/- but couldn’t fill the room entirely.

    Second son bought cotton for RM100/- but couldn’t fill the room entirely.

    Third son bought a candle for RM1/- and lit it up and the room was filled
    with light completely.”The proud UMNO MP declared:

    “Our Prime Minister NAJIB is like the third son. From the day he has taken
    charge of his office, our country is filled with the bright light of

    A voice from the backbench asked……………Where is the remaining

    Now the whole nation is asking this same question!!!

  11. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Then there are not enough words to describe what is clearly documented in the hundreds of pictures and videos which, in brilliant colours, depict the events of 28 April, 2012! To continue to be in a state of denial after reviewing the overwhelming evidence, is beyond comprehension! Truly, there are those who have eyes but refuse to see!

  12. . In today’s THE MALAY MAIL , under WHO’s TO BLAME it says :-

    – Ambiga for losing control…?
    -The Public for breaching the Assembly Act?
    -Politicians for hijacking the rally?
    -The Police for over-zealousness?

    There is a single answer to all these questions. To blame are all those who forgot the one rule that was to be observed – Rallies, street demonstrations even gatherings always start off peacefully but never end that way.

    Study as many cases from as many countries as you wish… the pattern is the same.

    Granted that there are cases when the law has to be overlooked. But our country in no way fits that category and we must endeavour that it never does..

  13. That’s a farce, Isa. All the rallies I’ve seen or have been in started off peacefully and ended up peacefully. Do you have a proper study to which you can use to back up your statement? Can you show us how many rallies that started peacefully and ended up in chaos with the ones that ended up peacefully? From my own study, I gather that you plucked that statement out from thin air.

  14. Correct didi

    When I was in Munich, Germany, there was a long stream of people demonstrating peacefully, in an orderly manner. And with police escort too!

    (Munich, if you remember, was the birthplace of Nazism/fascism in Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany has become a democratic state with rule of law. Is Malaysia in danger of descending inro fascism ?)

    (There was also another massive demonstration in Lisbon which I witnessed a few years ago. Lots of people and entirely peaceful too).

  15. one who reads The Malay Mail to get facts…………..?
    we have demonstrations nearly every Saturday in summer and sometimes a couple of them together. tomorrow is ‘May Day’ with many demos.
    if after 56 years malaysia is still not a ripe democracy then it is time to change the ruling party. don’t you understand that fact, Isa Manteqi?
    you repeat like a broken record the same thing.

    people like you are propping up this useless government for your own selfish good.

  16. We had our own Bersih 3.0 rally. The police helped us along the way to ensure it went down smoothly. The saddest part is when they wished us good luck and stay safe. That’s a far cry from the Malaysian police. Did our rally ended up in chaos and destruction? NO. So did the other Bersih global rallies. There goes Isa’s theory out the window. You can disagree with street demonstrations but just don’t go making up statements like “they always ended up in violence”. Especially when you didn’t include the specific studies or numbers to go with it.

  17. The people of Malaysia and the those in government must say a big Thank You to Berseih for bringing the issues to our attention. A wise Government will take a good look at what they have to say and address the issues at the beginning successfully instesd of being forced to so at the end unsuccessfully. That is what the Western World refer to as Wisdom with a capital ‘W’.

    Asian governmants must emulate the governments of the more developed world and address these governance issues in our effort to build impartial and independent Institutions Of Government to take us into the year 2020 when we too are expected to join the ranks of the developed world.

  18. ” A voice from the back bench asked ….. where is the remaining rm99 ringgit “. – tourman53

    I don’t think Maha Kutty ” sapued ” the Rm99. He would have , but only if there was 6 to 7 zero’s after the rm99 .

  19. I attended the BERSIH Sit In at The Esplanade in Penang and there was an estimated 7000 people present, high percentage in yellow T shirts! There was a speech by the organiser of Bersih in Penang ie Aliran President. Then Chief Minister took the stage for just 10 minutes and then it started drizzling at 3.10pm and the CM advised us to all go home since it looks like the sky will break out and pour!

    There were light presence of the police force and those present were given a bottled water, a packet drink and a nasi bungkus and everyone was smiling and friendly!

    So wtf happened in KL?

  20. Isa, for your info the protest at Ipoh Polo Club proceeded peacefully when no policemen appeared. I was there and you must be too brainy but your eye sight should be checked periodically. Otherwise, your vision will be clouded by your over intelligent brain.

  21. Now Kutty says Bersih 0.3 is not about electoral reforms but an attempt to overthrow an elected government !! SO his daughter MARINA who says she was there at the gathering also wants to overthrow BN ? Are you at your death throes Kutty ??

  22. Comparing Western countries with ours out East. That is part of the problem. That is also how you pluck facts from thin air.

    There are more civilised (and peaceful) ways to make demands.

    I too have seen rallies that are peaceful… but most the I read about are NOT.

    Malay Mail for facts? What are you talking about, friend? What facts?

  23. The question that should be asked is not “who is to blame?” but “are we ever going to learn that demos are not the way?”

  24. Yes REEPARBAHN, a broken record to you but your kind too keep repeating a broken record (after 52 years etc…) change, yes, but change to what?

    Change for the better or ANY change?

    A truism remains just that, no matter how many times it is repeated.

  25. “So wtf happened in KL?”

    Lotsa things, ‘bug. Like the main rock says: The ‘Law’ was broken. The Law was defined by a piece of paper called a magistrates ‘order’ – which morphed into rolls of razor wire, a coupla plastic road dividers and a rack of aluminium screens enclosing a green patch of grass in the Center of KL. When Law become inferred with such minutiae, Justice breaks down. So that’s wtf happened. The Polis ran amok as soon as the barrier was breached and later on became even more berserk when rumors circulated that one of their ‘member’ was mortally injured (heart attack in BB). Similarly, about a 1000 Bersih attendees were more than willing to battle on when rumors that 4 of their number were ‘killed’. See, mommas on both sides never taught ’em not to listen to Rumors!

    So who was ultimately responsible for the fracas? Lembek Jibs, his Keris swallowing Cuz’en and the Golden Silence of the Cabinet of Comedies. Oh before i forget, also – the bravest and ‘smartest’ unelected Mayor who moseyed into the thickest of the Yellow Throng. He lost his thongs, marbles and had to make a U-turn.

    Meanwhile, we have strange reasons why street rallies are inherently dangerous. Absolutely. Especially when the numbers breached 100k who were not amenable nor enamored by Dear Leadership.

    I would say that Bersih 3.0 lost. Imagine 7k well armed Goons whupping an exaggerated 250k peace-loving patriots. Kill ratio more than Mogadishu!

  26. Aiya.., Isa you need some phosphodiesterase inhibitors la.
    Then only can you see blue halo of change. Your basal cynicism has got the better of a fine neo-cortex of yours. Must have some faith in better things and hope for ‘change’. Otherwise, you end up lembek.., like Jibs.

  27. “There are more civilized ways to make demands” – Isa

    Do you hear that Onn Jaafar and Martin Luther King? How uncivilized of you people. Let’s send one big giant pleading card to Najib so that he’ll listen to us.

  28. But how about this, Isa ? Year 2009, i witnessed a peacefull protest march, something i have never seen in my life, about Eleven (yes 11 ) kilometers protestors marching towards Westminister from the East End of London to hand in a Petition to Parliament. Aimazing sight !
    About 4 or 5 columns of people carrying placards on one half of the road, the other half for Motorists non-protestors, not so much even as a squeak, silently marching with dignity & self-respect, Policemen on horse-back at several intervals accompanying them, whilst static policement were posted at the various Traffic lights. Nothing…nothing untoward had happened…

    Now how did they achieve this, astounding ?

    I later learnt that it was all prior planning with full Consensus, that was the key Maturity yes… but Sincerity of purpose….Peacefull Assembly

  29. if only Abnizar. Police accompanying them. WOW. Thats right becasue htey are part of the community and being a community they need to voice out their opinion and have their say. Nothing , absolutely nothing wrong with that! even sitting down peacefully is great!!!!!!!!! I owuld have loved to have witnessed that. In fact it would do good for some of our dungus (politicians) to witness maturity at work. Political maturiy that is.

  30. Listen up folks! The Father of the country’s Independence did not choose the red, white and blue for nothing.

    Five decades down the road, it is time we dispel the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people (underline “right of the people”) to alter, to abolish and institute a new government.

  31. Shame Abnizar, you have never seen that in your life? Democracy at work? Telling isnt it? Thats a crying shame that M’sians have never experienced that. Un- be- lievable. You M’sians have not lived fully then.

  32. ” Whenever any form of government becomes destructive , it is the right of the people to alter, to abolish and institute a new government “. – bean

    Bean ,

    Can you repeat this to your uncle Adnan Mansor , the UMNO sec gen . Maybe he will convey it to Maha Kutty and in that process both will be enlightened .

  33. dinobeano, I am and I have always been a BERSIH supporter and I am in favour of free and fair elections. This is never difficult for me to say.

    What prompted you to ask me, “hak55, why is it so difficult for you to say that you are a BERSIH supporter? Aren’t you in favour of free and fair elections?”

  34. Huh? Adnan Mansor my uncle? The Agong’s mother was my grandmother’s younger sister. But what has that gotta do with anything?

  35. Isa Manteqi wants those who take to public parades to voice out their concerns on the issues to line up two by two holding hands just like he did when he was in kindergarten. Over here we also string these toddlers together as they walk in the streets led by their teacher.

  36. “I was around during May 13 of 1969 but the Rangers were never sent to Kg Baru for obvious reasons.” Tok Cik

    I was with my multiracial unit of weekend soldiers nervously patrolling the narrow streets of Kg Bahru in our military jeep, stared down by residents eye balling us as we passed. The soldier next to me cocked his SLR.

  37. Isa, we, the people decide what we want and how we show our discontent. we don’t need a wiseguy (I’d rather say a ‘Klugscheißer’ which is more appropriate in this case) to tell us what is good for us. we are in fact fed up of these dictators! cranks, pathelogical liars and swindlers.
    in future if we read about a new party called the ‘Malaysian Zero Demonstration Action Party for Asians’ then we’ll know its from you. good luck to you, Isa Manteqi!

    yes Bean, the father of Independence chose the colours of the US flag because he envisioned a flourishing democracy similar to that in the US for malaysia. AND he put in the YELLOW for BERSIH to keep it clean!
    unfortunately the benevolent TAR was eased out to prevent his dream from coming true.

  38. “The soldier next to me cocked his SLR” – Bean

    Your outfit was attached to some services units and tasked to augment the regulars on patrolling duties in Kg Baru. We call them “bottle washers”. Kg Baru was under the watch of 5 RMR. Again for obvious reasons.

    My good friend Maj Mat Berus (of 5 RMR) resorted to some trickery which was to haunt him later in his career. He was dismissed after being caught gallivanting across the border while operating at Bukit Berapit.

    Those were the days…

  39. The best part of my duties was to guard the nurses at the University Hospital. I pulled a fast one with one of them nurses while everybody slept. Those were the days.

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