How could I not follow Bersih 3.0 when my guys and gals from MobTV.My have so bravely gone to get live coverage for the people of Malaysia? It is after all a group of NGOs – all non-partisan – trying to exercise their right of free speech and freedom of assembly as enshrined in the constitution. Dato’ Ambiga, the co-Chairperson of Bersih and the steering committee, promised a peaceful rally.
Rapera is all for peaceful expressions of views or even dissent by thinking and responsible citizens. However, Rapera is unambiguously against violence among its citizens.
Around about 1pm, when I had to go off from the Bersih event, I was happy to note that the event was peaceful and almost carnival like. I was pleased, at that moment that my worst fears of confrontation had been proven wrong. I was confident that the Bersih crowd will not go beyond the barricades that was erected around Dataran Merdeka (DM).
However, as events unfolded subsequently, my fears were unfortunately proven correct – political parties and several irresponsible quarters hijacked the Bersih event and turned it into of Malaysia’s most violent and shameful exercise of freedom of assembly. This is why I had always held that it is not politicians that can save the Nation but savior citizens or Raperas.
You can just youtube to see the shameful behaviours by some of our citizens, whom, I would say should be prosecuted under the law for their irresponsible and violent behaviours. At the same time, the behaviours of any police officers who had been over zealous in exercising their power should also be investigated. If this does not happen, there will be these accusations: Firstly, that politicians are exempted from the law. Secondly, that there are agent provocateurs arranged by Barisan Nasional and hence they are not prosecuted. Thirdly, that there is selective cover-up.
Many I met seem to believe that PKR has simply hijacked the event in the most irresponsible way and are contributory to the violence and rioting that ensued. This has to be verified by PKR itself. Many people I
know already perceive PKR as a party that would do anything to wrestle political power.
Politicians and political parties should have just stayed out and let it be an NGO event.
In retrospect I wonder if all these unwanted events would have occurred if the Datuk Bandar had simply not interfered with Bersih’s intention to sit-in at the Dataran. I had voiced the view before that Bersih 3.0 is unstoppable and so the most logical thing for the authorities to do would be to simply provide police protection for the sit-in and for them to facilitate the event. The moment I heard that DBKL took the position that DM was off limits for Bersih 3.0, I was concerned that this may be a catalyst for disaster. In fact, I was of the view that even the “occupydataran” by the students should have police or DBKL protection instead of the opposition they had experienced. These are after all college kids learning to exercise their right of expression, even though they may not be correct on the issue. Such “training” if properly “guided” may make them mature Raperas in the future. However, old methods of exercising authority seem to die hard. My views too seem to have fallen on deaf ears or “dinosaurous” ears!
On another perspective, one must also ask why was there such a huge turnout? How and why did so many people turn up for the event? On one hand, it is heart warming to note that more and more Rakyats are beginning to learn that they cannot depend on ANY politician but on themselves.
Hence, if I am the ruling party, I would not be automatically defensive. I will embrace the Rakyat’s interest in the well being of their Nation. On the other hand, if I am the Opposition, I will not automatically gloat and think that I have the support of the people. I will be wary of the way I serve in politics. This and other such events could very well be a sign that the Rakyat seriously do not trust politicians anymore, which is a good thing. This is, in my view, taking back control of the destiny of our home, our Nation.
Freedom of expression and assembly aside, the sanctity of the law must also be protected. There is simply no excuse for any irresponsible persons to destroy or to cause to destroy or incite anyone to destroy public property which, we must remember, belongs to the Rakyat. I believe that the genuine Bersih folks are peaceful. Hence, the urgency of prosecuting the culprits who have marred the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right.
May peace always prevail among us.
NEXT: Bersih 3.0 and A Cleric (God Willing)