Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spotlight on Bersih 2.0

All attention is now focused on the Bersih 2.0 rally which is supposed to take place in Kuala Lumpur on July 9.

It is purportedly to drive home the point that elections must be clean, free and fair - at least that's what the organisers say - while the Barisan Nasional government has countered that it is a move (Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia claimed it is funded by foreign Christians) backed by Pakatan Rakyat to somehow or other revive communism in Malaysia and create chaos and overthrow the government.

The Barisan Nasional government has also resorted to strong-arm tactics issuing warnings of stern action if the rally goes on as planned and arrests of several people linked to Parti Socialis Malaysia and those who were promoting the rally have already taken place in Penang and Johore.

The Malaysian Insider reported that police said they are probing an alleged attempt by some Bersih activists to revive communism and are investigating 30 PSM members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jayakumar for “waging war against the Yang DiPertuan Agong”.

At the same time, the so-called Malay supremacist body called Perkasa and Umno Youth have planned counter rallies on the very same day. And the Bersih organisers are unlikely to call the rally off despite the warnings of stern action to be taken and the non-issuance of permits by the police.

Essentially there are two points of view.

From the Government's perspective, the Bersih rally should not take place because it can cause chaos, it is backed by the Opposition, involves some alleged Communists and its aim is to seize power.

Nobody is really sure how Communists have resurfaced in Malaysia after the Malayan Communist Party had signed a peace deal in Hatyai on Dec 2, 1989.

Other than the fact that some of those picked up had T-shirts featuring the faces of Malayan Communist leaders Rashid Maidin and Chin Peng, there is no other indication of how Communism is being revived. Communism, by the way, is now out of fashion in almost every part of the world except in China (which is more capitalist these days), North Korea and Cuba. Even Russia has more or less abandoned Marxist ideals.

From Bersih's point of view, the rally should be held because citizens of any democratic state have the Constitutional right to express their views, and the ideals of a free, fair and clean election are noble indeed.

What is far more important is what the people think.

Would Malaysians agree with the strong-arm tactics of the Government and its rather archaic accusations like Communists emerging from wherever they were hiding all these years to create chaos and Utusan Malaysia’s allegations of foreign Christians funding a Malaysian rally?

Or would they agree that elections should be fair and transparent and it is their democratic right to express themselves?

The Barisan Nasional leaders should realise that their strong-arm tactics can backfire - they should take a good look at what's happening in the so-called Arab Spring of dissent that has swept the Middle-East. Did strong-arm tactics work there?

In several Arab nations, the authorities did not just arrest protesters but they mobilised the military and actually shot dead many of the protesters. Yet the protests did not fade away. The strong-arm tactics merely served to encourage more people to take to the streets to protest.

If the same thing happens in Malaysia, then the strong-arm tactics of the Barisan Nasional government may backfire badly and the situation could be exploited further by Pakatan Rakyat.

Indeed, the Barisan Nasional government may unwittingly create martyrs for Pakatan Rakyat to exploit.

The Arab youths (who were not born-again Communists) were fighting for freedom and democracy (not to revive Communism) and isn't the Bersih rally supposed to be about freedom and democracy? If one can spot the similarities, then freedom and democracy may be the slogans that Pakatan Rakyat will use to fan dissent among idealistic and impressionable young Malaysians - much like the cries of "Reformasi" by de facto leader of Pakatan Anwar Ibrahim that had ignited many a protest in the past.

The Government must realise that the Pakatan Rakyat leaders are a cunning lot and they can turn a position of disadvantage to one of advantage. It appears to me that they are doing exactly that with the Bersih 2.0 rally and it seems as if the Pakatan Rakyat leaders are in fact hoping for even more stern action to be taken by the authorities as that would add more fuel to the fire - and they would quickly blame the Barisan Nasional government for lighting the match.

By the time the fire is burning merrily, everyone would have forgotten about Anwar's sodomy case and his sex video.