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The way the news are written about how the police are protecting Kuala Lumpur from the BERSIH supporters, it looks like a major people power is in the offing. All vehicles cannot enter major roads into the city, 91 individuals have been banned from entering the city tomorrow, Saturday July 9 2011 and anyone wearing the BERSIH t-shirts will be arrested, by golly! Aren’t we overdoing it?

I suppose we cannot really blame the government for acting this way as they might be thinking of the recent Arab uprisings and the fact that currently thousands of Egyptians are back on Tahrir square to protest against the army for what they deem as a slow progress towards the establishment of a democracy.

The nature of our society, albeit multi-racial, is different from the Arabs. We have far more people in middle-class category who are quite content with what they have unlike the Arab countries where the income gaps are a lot larger thus the dissatisfaction and frustrations. The same in the Philippines during the Marcos era, people have nothing to lose so they came out in droves such that the authorities just could not simply shoot them.

From the news we gather that the government initially was going to allow the demonstrators to use a stadium but later they were told to get a permit then the stadium authorities turned them down. Suddenly they have nowhere to demonstrate their dissatisfaction! What the hell is going on? Who are making decisions and who are implementing them? Rather chaotic and no sense of leadership at all at the government level. We heard PM Najib said one thing then Rais Yatim said another and Muhyiddin yet another! Total breakdown of organisational commands.

As I said earlier I didn’t like manipulative politicians in any camps, government or opposition. And I reject politically-motivated street or stadium demonstrations but in this instance with Ambiga, the President of BERSIH 2.0, having met the King, can’t we let them “do their things” in one of the stadiums? Let them vent their emotion and release their anger as long as they do not destroy public properties they can scream their voices hoarse and return home relieved and have a good sleep and go to work the next day or the following Monday. This is their right to assemble and express themselves.

As to de register BERSIH is also an act of desperation on the part of the government. It is done based wholly on its perceived association with the opposition parties. But don’t you think that it is natural for opposition parties to gravitate to BERSIH on this contentious issue and support their call for electoral reforms? BN would have done the same had they been in the opposition’s shoes.

Barricading KL is like giving in to the demonstrators who could be encouraged further to taunt the authorities. If they cannot show their faces they will choose other means to express themselves. For how long does the government want to put a lid on this pressure cooker?

Barricading KL would also affect the businesses in and around the city. People are likely to stay home and avoid the inconvenience of being checked by the police. And what about the tourists?

I would have thought the world will look more kindly at us if our authorities are allowing people to assemble peacefully and express themselves and hold the organisers responsible for any major issues. The authorities do not even want to issue a permit. After all the King has graciously stepped in and broke the impasse.

Why can’t Malaysia be seen as respecting democratic rights?


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