Now that the dust has settled, we can look back and somewhat morbidly enjoy the blame game as to the violence during BERSIH 248 rally or be wise after the event. Was the rally a success? It would depend on how you perceive success. Is it in terms of number of protestors? Wide publicity? Impact on public? Support from stakeholders?
The number was there an estimate of between 25,000 to 50,000 and take your pick as you are as dependent on second hand news as I am. Yes, it receives a wide national publicity as well as a global audience (prompting a dear friend of mine to text from London in the wee hour of the morning to find out whether I was involved in the protest!).
As to impact on the public, I would say we can just guess the degree. I wouldn’t say it has managed to change the stance of established political supporters. In fact it is likely to make pro-government supporters stronger in their conviction to maintain the same regime in the next general election and the opposition supporters angrier and more motivated to go all out to topple the current government at the ballot box.
It is the precious fence sitters and new voters that the rally/opposition needs to win over. It is the fence sitters and again new voters that the government need to persuade to get it re-elected. Otherwise it is status quo as far as I could fathom.
I would say the wealthy and the recipients of current government’s favours would go to great lengths to discredit BERSIH leaders and organizers as well as opposition big guns to shore up support from the neutral segment of the eligible voters. They have massive interests to protect. They would not let them go off easily on all accounts.
Similarly the other side of the scale is dying to get their turn, not only to rule this blessed country but to savour the benefits/privileges that come with that power.
And so people, you will have to avoid selectively reading news or articles online or otherwise of only one side of the story. Do visit the websites dedicated to both sides and make your own analysis and decisions to prepare you for the impending 13th General Election. Make your decision as who to vote for prior to going into the voting booth and do not be swayed by last minute’s pandering from both parties. In Malaysia, the tendency is to vote along party line but of late candidates’ winnability has been highlighted by the ruling BN coalition.
I was reading pro-government blogs and news portals and the sort of things/issues which they bring up could very well make me want to wring the opposition leaders’ necks! Then I read the pro-opposition ones and what I found infuriated me to such an extent that I want to shake the lives out of those government/BN leaders. In short, and it is a no brainer that you do need to read both points of views to ensure you make an informed choice of the next government. Avoid being partisan at this early stage unless you want to vote with your feet later.
No doubt BERSIH 248 has polarized the country further by the unfortunate violence beamed across the country and the world. The so-called hijacking of the rally by opposition politicians is most unfortunate and highly regrettable. The multi-racial rally could have proven to all of us and to the global audience that we are a civil society and able to tolerate dissent.
Both the government and the organizers/opposition leaders are blameworthy. For Najib,Muhyiddin and Hishammuddin to blame the riot during the BERSIH 3 rally squarely on the former is akin to someone who threw a stone and then hide his hand in the pocket (Baling batu sembunyi tangan). I am loathed to narrate what the government did to frustrate the organizers prior to the rally on the question of the venue, the same tactics used in the last BERSIH 2 rally. You can read in the BERSIH website or pro-opposition blogs.
The government’s hesitancy appeared to be mala fide designed to derail any success of the rally. This was perhaps understandable given the glaring presence of the charismatic Anwar. At the same time this delay-dallying had indicated their resolution to stay in power. Any other conclusion then was naive.
I truly abhor those who instigated the demonstrators to breach the police barricades prompting the latter to retaliate without compromising, precipitating the violence. As a result there were innocent casualties and unnecessary collateral damage.
There is a YouTube posting which shows both Anwar and Azmin caught in the act of instigation near the Merdeka Square. The square is deemed “sacrosanct” by the government as its occupation could mirror that of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt during the Arab Spring. Prolonged occupation would put the government in a dilemma, vis-à-vis the impending 13th General Election and the negative perception of the international community. Would you blame the government for this decision? Put your feet in their shoes.
In the video (http://youtu.be/6yGCDOcchB8) it appears that there was an element of instigation of the already electrically charged protesters. Anwar seems to be giving a sign for demonstrators to breach the barricades forcing the police to retaliate, leading to chaos marking the beginning of the END of a well-intentioned rally on electoral reforms led by the likes of Datuk Ambiga, the former President of the Malaysian Bar Council.
What Anwar and Azmin allegedly did was both irresponsible and evil. Their emotion override genuine protesters’ interests. We must reject this kind of desperate leaders. Anwar uses his charisma to delude those followers of his, who piggy-ride on BERSIH for their own political ends and tarnish a bona fide movement.
Now, was the BERSIH 3 rally a failure? A resounding “yes” from me and I am not being partisan here neither am I being out of touch with reality. The rally proves there is an opposition political agenda and BERSIH acts as its conduit. Many of us support electoral reforms for a fairer election but not through pathologically overt polarisation, senseless violence and destruction.
The perpetrators of the ensuing riot should face the full brunt of the law.
Indeed, there were the good,the bad and the ugly in that rally as opined here
I was watching the police response aired happily and continuously by the foreign media such as Aljazeera and was incensed with the police brutality but today I saw the other side of the fiasco. The policemen were not robots and they acted out of frustration as well though I would stop short of condoning their brash treatment of the media personnel.
The aftermath of the initially peaceful rally turned riotous is unspeakably ugly with injuries on both sides besides property damage, loss of income for traders and lasting hatred of the authorities (read police).
An evidence of protesters’ brutality is shown on this video http://youtu.be/7l8ewSMIc2k where a policeman is beaten mercilessly.
After an extensive read on both parties, I can say for myself that I dislike all the protagonists particularly the manipulative Anwar Ibrahim, in this political game. They are not really fit to govern us but what choice do we have under the circumstances? Do we stick to the devil that we know rather than the angel that we really don’t?
I am encouraged to hear a conciliatory tone of PM Najib in his interview with Aljazeera this evening. I am hoping Najib will act like my idol Mandela in diffusing the current bleak polarising moment in our country and win me over and perhaps you too.
I would like to re-post an article written on a popular blog by a concerned Lim Chee Wie below to help increase your appreciation of the impact of BERSIH 428 hijacked rally.
It is refreshing to note his reflection on democratic progress and the need for a two-party system in this country, which I fully support as a safeguard against absolute power, political malaise,nepotism, business cronyism and corruption.
His eloquent take on Anwar Ibrahim is brutal.
> By Lim Chee Wei
> 29 April 2012
> An obituary is something that is not easy to right. One never knows what to say as consoling those that have lost a loved one is nearly always an exercise in futility. The violence and chaos rained down by thousands of bused in Opposition members led by Keadilan’s Deputy President Azmin Ali yesterday was the final nail in the coffin of the political life his mentor, Anwar Ibrahim.
> I am not a fortuneteller but the writing is clearly on the wall. This is the beginning of the end of the political career of Anwar Ibrahim which has spanned more than 40 years. What should have been the natural support base of Pakatan Rakyat marching in KL on Saturday now, more than ever, has begun to count the toll of damage Anwar has done to the argument that all rallies are peaceful.
> The advent of a full democracy in Malaysia is not dependent on Ambiga’s unreasonable demands for the resignation of the entire Election Commission or the implementation of all reforms demanded before the next GE. Full democracy in Malaysia is dependent on the setting up of a sustainable and viable two-party system. People seeing Anwar lose control and sending his storm troopers in to destroy everything in their way has led many peacefully marching to believe that for democracy to face the BN, Anwar has got to go.
> The sheer desperation and willingness to cause the BN political damage at any costs, even causing damage and injury, shows that Anwar knows this GE is his LAST chance. It is the final salvo of one of the most divisive figures in Malaysia’s political history. Anwar will be 65 this year and waiting for the 14th election will see him just a shade under 70. This is his time, after GE13, it will be the time of the true leaders of Pakatan. Younger leaders who don’t want their families to dominate their parties, who are not singularly driven by a desire for power to take revenge on Tun Mahathir etc. and leaders who don’t have the baggage that a former Deputy President of UMNO will always surely have.
> It is sad to see an otherwise intelligent man blind to the fact that he will never be Prime Minister. The destructiveness he unleashed on Kuala Lumpur this weekend is the final act of desperation of a man hoping in vain that he has still got one final act to play. What he does not realize is that his audience has left and moved on to something, or someone, that far more closely resembles an ideal of leadership with which they want to spend time and watch.
> Datuk Ambiga herself conceded that the Police acted after the political segments of the rally intimidated and attacked the Police. In her own attempt to salvage what has become an irreparable situation of chaos and violence, she naively asks the Government to think about why some people would act so extremely. The motives of men smashing cars lies not in a desire for electoral reform. Rather, they were doing so because Anwar told them to do so. He told them to do so because he knew that if they rained chaos on the streets, the Police would be forced to act. Only then would his friends in the foreign media be able to dedicate many minutes of coverage to chaos in yet another Muslim majority country.
> Datuk Ambiga has to take some of the responsibility despite her attempts to ask the crowd to disperse before the trouble started. She herself repeatedly requested PAS and Keadilan to bulk up her numbers in the event that ordinary non-partisan Malaysians did not show up. It is as clear as day that Bersih has been entirely taken over by the Opposition. This could have been avoided if Datuk Ambiga never started on that slippery slope of sharing the Bersih stage with Anwar in particular.
> I am Chinese and the first trait of my people is pragmatism which is why we felt that there needed to be a much stronger Opposition in 2008 given the wanton corruption and abuses of the BN then. Pakatan would do well not to take my pragmatism for granted for this way of thinking does not know political loyalties. Chaos and desperation are not pragmatic. For the first time since 2008, Anwar does not seem like a pragmatic choice for Prime Minister.
> Democratic progress is NOT upturned cars on the streets and vigilante rowdies running riot in our cities. Democratic progress is the setting up of a true two party system. Pakatan needs a real leader who believes in the ideals of democracy and has NEVER practiced otherwise. With this, I hereby write the beginning of the end of Anwar Ibrahim’s political career on 28 April 2012.