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.

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