Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sogo saga: The true story

The defining moment of the Bersih 3.0 rally is not the firing of tear gas and jets of chemical-laced water by riot police at the hordes of demonstrators.

It is also not the moment when demonstrators broke the barricades and the barb wire fencing off Dataran Merdeka at the junction of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja.
The defining moment is how a police car ended up on its side outside Sogo department store on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman during the Bersih 3.0 rally on Saturday afternoon.

This incident has been played up by the mainstream media and also the police to portray the lack of respect for the law and the hooliganism of the demonstrators.

This incident has been used to portray the Bersih 3.0 rally as being far from peaceful and those taking part were violent thugs who attacked policemen on duty.

Thus this incident has to be examined properly.

Luckily there were lots of brave cameramen and videographers that day and many video clips of the incident, including the 'official' version by the police, are available on YouTube. Many of these cameramen and videographers were bashed up by the cops, but that's another story.

The first clip of the overturning of the police car that I watched on Saturday afternoon was from Malaysiakini. The second clip was from the police. Later I watched a few more clips from other sources.

It can be easily discerned that the 'official' police version was edited to make it appear as if the Bersih demonstrators mercilessly attacked the hapless cop who drove the car. 

The dazed cop who drove the police car being helped
out by two Bersih demonstrators. This is the scene left
out of the 'official' police video clip of the Sogo event.

In the police clip, you will see a man jumping on the roof of the police car as it makes its way slowly past hundreds of demonstrators. Whether that man is an agent provocateur is not known, but he obviously 'inspired' the other demonstrators to kick the car and smash its windscreens. That man is seen hopping off the bonnet of the police car and running away.

From all the video clips that I saw, the sequence of events went like this:
1) A police car moves slowly through the sea of demonstrators.
2) A man climbs onto the police car and jumps several times on the roof, hops onto the bonnet and onto the road and runs away.
3) Demonstrators kick the police car and the body is dented.
4) Demonstrators throw water bottles and road cones at the police car.
5) The cop driving the car loses control of the vehicle and it veers to the right and crashes into several people who were on the sidewalk outside Sogo. The car hits a wall with a loud thud and stops. (Mainstream media reports said three people were injured, one seriously.)
6) Demonstrators rush towards the car. Someone wearing a crash helmet tries to open the driver's door and when he is pulled away, he starts punching and kicking the demonstrators. He is then beaten up by demonstrators.
7) Several men wearing yellow and red T-shirts surround the car and they put up their hands and are heard shouting "Sabar! Sabar!"
8) One man in yellow T-shirt opens the door and helps out the dazed cop, places his hand on the shoulder of the cop and leads him away. A man in red T-shirt is also seen helping the cop. Someone is injured because he can be seen lying on the ground and there are blood stains on the pavement.
9) The demonstrators think there is someone trapped underneath the police car. At least two people can be seen kneeling down to look under the car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang di bawah tau!" A girl's voice is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!" and several people lift the cop car from the right side and the car lands on its left side.

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the events leading to the demonstrators lifting the police car which lands on its side. A girl is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!"

From Malaysianews:
This clip shows demonstrators kicking and throwing water bottles at the police car as it makes its way slowly past the thousands of demonstrators. It also shows the police car veering to the right and hitting several people who are standing on the pavement outside Sogo. This clip also shows a man in yellow T-shirt helping the dazed cop out of the car, placing his hand over the cop's shoulder and escorting him away. It also shows the events leading to several people lifting the police car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang dibawah tau!" before the car is lifted and lands on its left side.

This shows more or less the same scenes as the previous clip from another angle. The crash victim can be seen lying on the pavement in this clip. The man in red T-shirt is seen helping the cop along with the man in yellow T-shirt.

This clip shows the crash from another angle:

This is the most comprehensive clip on the accident that I have seen so far:

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the man who was hit by the police car being placed on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance.

From the police:
This is the official version from the police. It has been obviously edited to make the demonstrators look bad.

Please watch all the video clips and judge for yourself.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bersih 3.0: Looks like history will repeat itself

Looks like the Barisan Nasional government has not learnt any lesson from the previous Bersih 2.0 rally for free and fair elections.

Yesteday, KL mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said in a statement that Dataran Merdeka, the venue of the Bersih 3.0 sit-in protest for free and fair elections, will be closed for 48 hours beginning from 6am Friday.

He said the restriction will be enforced based on Local Government Dataran Merdeka Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur By-Laws 1992 and Section 65 of the Local Government Act 1976 and the restriction will be lifted at 6am on Sunday morning, the Malaysian Insider reported.

The move against the electoral reforms movement is seen as a sign that the hawks in Putrajaya have won the day despite their confidence that the rally has no traction, the Malaysian Insider reported.

DBKL has already barricaded the historic square in the capital city and the police have taken a hands-off approach towards the latest rally with DBKL taking the lead role as it runs the square.

The City Hall officials have just evicted a group of activists calling themselves Occupy Dataran this week two weeks after they set up a daily camp there, the Malaysian Insider reported.

And Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has made veiled threats by saying the police are duty-bound to ensure public order and that this is not threatened by any party.

He said this in commenting on the possibility of the organisers of the planned rally at Dataran Merdeka this Saturday being adamant about proceeding with it, Free Malaysia Today reported.

“We have already compromised and offered alternative venues to them…but if they choose to be stubborn, it will be up to the police (to take the necessary action),” he said.

Judging from the response to Bersih 2.0 and the mood of the people, especially the urban folks, you can expect the average Malaysian not to give a damn to the City Hall officials, the police or the Barisan Nasional government.

The BN government must realise that Malaysians are not stupid or gullible or scared anymore. They don't even seem to be afraid of being hit by jets of chemical-laced water from water cannons or even being fired at with tear gas canisters.

The BN goverment must realise that things must be really wrong and Malaysians must be really fed-up when usually meek folks stand up for their rights despite road blocks, lockdowns, water cannons and tear gas. Times are certainly a-changing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another indication it will be June

In another indication that the general elections will likely be held in June, Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad announced today that the listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings will proceed without the participation of Koperasi Permodalan Felda so that the listing deadline can be met.

He said the Koperasi has finally agreed to the listing but there is not enough time to discuss the terms and conditions before the target listing date of within the May-June period, the Malaysian Insider reported.

In other words, Felda wants to get the holding company listed by June so that the millions of Felda settlers will benefit from windfall profits and obviously be 'persuaded' to continue to vote for Barisan Nasional.

Felda is vital to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak because it was his father who kicked off the 'Land for the Landless' project and also because the majority of the settlers are still supporters of Umno and Barisan Nasional.

And in the 2008 general elections and several by-elections held since then, many seats were won by Barisan Nasional because of the solid backing from Felda settlers.

That was why Pakatan Rakyat made all sorts of allegations about Felda including that it was bankrupt.

The battle was to win over the Felda votes and the listing exercise is about BN holding on to the votes while rewarding the settlers for their loyalty.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

June or September?

Everybody's talkin' about...the general elections these days.

Everywhere I go, I am always asked: "Elections, when ah?"

And everybody has become a pundit - "June-lah," "Not so soon-lah," "Later in the year-lah," "Cannot be-lah. Sooner better, wait some more got some more problems BN cannot solve."

Well, the general consensus is that the general elections will be held either in June or September.

It surely will not be held in July because that's the fasting month for Muslims. Ramadan is expected to begin on or around July 20 and will end on or around August 19.

At the rate that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is playing Santa Claus travelling all over the country and distributing goodies and cash to both the naughty and nice, June is the best bet.

If he waits any longer, the feel-good factor will dissipate and Malaysians - the majority of whom have rather short memories - would have forgotten (or, more likely, spent) the cash handouts.

And the BN government may not have enough monetary reserves to go for another round of distributing cash handouts.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bersih rally: Will history repeat itself?

What should the Barisan Nasional government do about the proposed Bersih 3.0 sit-in rally to be held on April 28 at Dataran Merdeka in the heart of Kuala Lumpur?

Well, the BN government can do two things.

It can make the same mistake it made when Bersih 2.0 held a rally to push for clean and fair elections last year by demonising its leaders and linking them to all sorts of 'rogues' out to cause trouble and bring the government down such as Christians, Western Christians, Jews and Communists and closing the city centre with barricades and thousands of cops.

Or it can learn from that mistake and simply let the Bersih 2.0 rally go on as scheduled at Dataran Merdeka and let the cops and riot police have the day off.

Of the two, I think the latter is the wiser move.

By letting the rally go on as planned, it will allow protestors to let off some steam harmlessly, it will allow people their chance to be heard and chances are, they will sit down, shout some slogans, hold some placards, make some speeches (the Opposition politicians will definitely be there) and then they will go home.

But judging by how things are working out, it seems possible that the authorities are opting for the first move.

The Bersih 2.0 organisers claim they have the go-ahead from the Home Minister, but they need to get approval from City Hall for the venue. It appears as if the government is going to play the bureaucratic game of shifting the decision making from one government department to another. It appears as if they are trying to use delaying tactics to frustrate the Bersih 2.0 organisers.

Racist NGO Perkasa has tried to link the rally to push for clean and fair elections, freedom and democracy with religion by labelling it anti-Islam and calling the organiser the Anti-Christ. This suggests that the authorities are again trying to demonise the rally and the rally organisers by using the boring old strategy of using Christianity as the bogeyman.

If the Barisan Nasional government opts to clamp down on the proposed rally and continues to demonise the organisers, then I am afraid the leaders have not learnt any lesson from the previous Bersih rally.

Well, it has been said that history repeats itself.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Clean elections and the Anti-Christ?

Sometimes it is amazing how nonsensical some people can be.

I'm totally baffled by the statement on April 7 by Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris which attempted to somehow link the proposed Bersih 2.0 rally - to push for clean and fair elections - on April 28 with  religion.

Irwan had telephoned The Malaysian Insider to give his views on Bersih 2.0 co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and literary giant Datuk A. Samad Said who is now a Bersih supporter.

“Samad Said, don’t be a traitor to the nation. It is very clear who is Ambiga... I stand strong in my conviction that she is anti-Muslim,” Irwan told The Malaysian Insider.

Irwan warned Muslims not to attend Bersih’s third rally on April 28, claiming that the event was being led by “the anti-Christ for Muslims” and a “traitor to the nation”.

He also criticised Samad for his involvement, saying it was “unfortunate” that a man considered a national icon in the field of arts and literature was not behaving intelligently.

“Don’t you dare try to get our students involved, Samad Said. Don’t you become a traitor.

“You are a Muslim. You have to show that you are not supporting Ambiga. You should be protecting Islam," he told The Malaysian Insider.

How a rally for clean and fair elections to champion freedom and democrary can be anti-Muslim and led by the Anti-Christ is totally beyond my mortal understanding. Well, perhaps I am not intelligent enough to understand such matters...

However, I would like Irwan to tell Malaysians if the Arab Spring - uprisings by young Arabs against dictators and despots fuelled by ideals of freedom and democracy - is anti-Muslim or led by some Arab version of the Anti-Christ.

Bear in mind the Arab Spring is taking place in Arabia where Islam was born and most - if not all - of the young Arab protestors are Muslims.

As for the Anti-Christ mentioned in the Bible, he is not just going to lead one small rally in some remote corner of the world to fight for clean and fair elections; he is going to lead the entire world to the wrong and evil path to damnation.

Irwan should at least get his theology right.