Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The various faces of Bersih 3.0

It is always much easier to examine events with hindsight. In an event like Bersih 3.0 which was a rally to press for free and fair elections, there was actually a motley group of rebels with or without causes taking part, each with his or her own agenda or belief.

As is widely known by now, what started off as a peaceful rally with a carnival-like atmosphere ended up with tear-gas filled street battles between pockets of demonstrators and police with several people injured - including some journalists and photographers - and horrifying scenes of police brutality.

After spending some time looking at the various photos of the event, I can list down what I think are the various faces of Bersih 3.0.

The idealists

They were the people who took part in the Occupy Dataran Merdeka campaign and they comprised mainly students, young adults, filmmakers, artistes and an assortment of oddballs.

Occupy Dataran activists.

The students.

The barricade near Central Market.

The concerned citizens

This comprised the majority of the protesters. Many Malaysians took part in Bersih simply because they were sick and tired of all the politicking, the racist statements, the dirty tricks used in election campaigns and the widespread and revolting corruption prevailing amongst the ruling elite.

Surprisingly, many well-educated middle-class and upper middle-class Malaysians walked the talk this time.

This group included lawyers, journalists, editors, writers and other professionals.

Surely these Concerned Citizens would not kick a cop or condone violence.

The Average Joes at the rally.

Families took part in the carnival-like rally (before 3pm)

Angry Birds were angry too.

Bersih participants at Petaling Street.

The senior citizens

It was also surprising that a sizeable number of retirees and pensioners took part.

I think they were very concerned that the Malaysia they had lived and worked in peacefully for the past six or seven decades seemed to be torn apart by racist and corrupt politicians.

Auntie Bersih was loudly cheered by fellow protesters. In Bersih 2.0, she had apparently made her way by bus to Kuala Lumpur without knowing where to meet up with the demonstrators or even what to do.

This time, she was more aware of things and was seen at Petaling Street with hordes of other protesters.

Senior citizens among the protesters.

'White hairs' were spotted wearing yellow headbands.

This cool grandpa was seen snapping shots with his handphone.
Another senior citizen exercising her rights.
This senior citizen doesn't look like he can kick a cop.

Auntie Bersih acknowledging the people cheering for her.

The guys who wanted to have fun
There was a guy who wore a glossy gold wig and another dressed as a Power Ranger. Surely they were non-violent and had no intention to kick policemen.

The man with the golden hair.
Do we need superheroes to save Malaysia?

The disabled

Even the disabled decided to be seen and heard and 'marched' alongside the able-bodied. Even the disabled seem to be sick and tired of the political situation in the nation.

The environmentalists

Several people were seen holding placards to denounce the Lynas rare earth processing plant under construction in Kuantan.

Thus the green movement became part of Bersih 3.0.

The organisers

Obviously Ambiga and gang were not only participants but leaders.

The politicians

Ah yes, the politicians. Pakatan Rakyat politicians openly supported Bersih 3.0.

Obviously they would want free and fair elections so that they could have a better chance of winning. 

And they would want to be seen backing worthy causes especially if they put the Barisan Nasional government in bad light.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim making his inflammatory speech. 
The argument going on now is whether PKR leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin had hijacked the rally by getting their henchmen to breach the barricades to rush towards Dataran Merdeka and 'forced' the riot police to retaliate by firing tear gas and water cannons.

The argument is whether the PKR leaders turned a peaceful rally into a violent one for their own political agenda.

The police

The participants of Bersih 3.0 were not only the protesters, but also the police.

The cops had a controversial role in Bersih 3.0 because they also turned violent and to prevent journalists and photographers/videographers from recording their bashing up of protesters, the journalists were also bashed up and photographers/videographers had their equipment damaged, seized or the memory cards taken away.

The streetfighters
It cannot be denied that a small group of demonstrators - numbering around 500-1,000 -  were itching for a fight with the cops.

And after most of the moderates and idealists and middle-class folks went home, these fighters started their brawls from around 6pm at the Masjid Jamek area. From what I was told, the streetfighting lasted around an hour and was rather brutal and bloody on both sides.

The agent provocateurs

Everybody knew they were there among the protesters, but nobody really knew what they did.

However, it is interesting to ask:

Who was the man who jumped up and down on the roof of the police car?

Who was the man who jumped up and down on the roof of the police car and his antics was superbly caught on video by a police videographer who 'happened' to be positioned in the right spot at the right time?

This video appeared in the police website and was widely used to show that the demonstrators were violent and had no respect for the law.

We will never know the truth, but we can speculate with some degree of accuracy.

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