Thousands throng ‘Bersih 3.0’ ceramah in Penang

Susan Loone
Jul 12, 11

They have been accused of hijacking the July 9 rally as calls of ‘reformasi’ – PKR’s battle cry – reverberated on the streets of Kuala Lumpur instead of cries of ‘Bersih’ for electoral reforms.

Yet more than 5,000 turned up to throw a hero’s welcome for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and PAS deputy chief Mohamad Sabu at the Seberang Jaya Expo site last night, a ceramah which the latter described as ‘Bersih 3.0’.

Both leaders, who arrived within 20 minutes of each other, made a grand entrance – Anwar entered sporting a neck brace and had to assisted as he headed for the stage, while Mohamad was in a wheelchair and was hauled up onto the platform by several security personnel.

A media frenzy ensued, with photographers jostling to take the best shot of the duo – their first appearance after their harrowing experience at the Bersih rally which included being tear-gassed and sustaining injuries.

Afraid that their leaders may sustain further hurt due to all the shoving, the emcee had to gently tick off the media for their enthusiasm and pleaded for calmness.

Judging by the mood of the multiracial crowd last night, the jubilation of those who joined the banned gathering in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday have spilled over into this Malay epicentre of Penang.

During his session, Anwar spoke briefly, but was noticeably less energetic than usual, obviously due to the pain on his neck and back he suffered following the KL Sentral underpass incident, which PKR had described as a “criminal act”.

He managed, however, to lambast Najib Razak for accusing him of faking his injuries, saying that the prime minister had “no sense of humanity” for belittling others when they are down.

“I am forced to wear this neck brace – it was the doctor’s orders after he saw how bad the injury was to my neck and back… I did not ask for it,” he said.

“Najib would even like everyone to think that I had purposely gone for a (slip disc) surgery in Munich so that I can come home and show the people,” he chided the prime minister.

Renewed enthusiasm

Meanwhile, the crowd displayed a rare sense of renewed enthusiasm for the Bersih campaign by responding boisterously to their leaders’ comments, clapping loudly or offering a remark of two.

The mixed crowd of young and older men, women and children, sat on the grass patch and the more experienced ones rolled out their own mats, while it was business as usual for the operators of a nearby pasar malam.

Before the ceramah begun, many who just returned from the Bersih 2.0 rally on Saturday, were heard eagerly sharing their stories with friends and acquaintances.

Tales after tales of police brutality against peaceful protesters such as physical assault and the firing of tear gas directly into a retreating crowd which they witnessed “with my own eyes” were heard.

Although Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai and the police have refused to accept responsibility for the firing tear gas into the Tung Shin hospital near Puduraya, a Seberang Perai municipal councillor Oon Neow Aun said he was at the scene and witnessed the incident.

Police also arrested a shocking figure of 1,667 for taking part in illegal rallies and defying police orders to disperse, all of whom were released that night.

Government leaders, especially Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein had refuted claims that the police force was brutal.

One-minute silence for Baharuddin

Meanwhile, Mohamad, who is widely known as Mat Sabu, arrived from Langkawi in the midst of a one-minute silent for Baharuddin Ahmad – spouse of PKR Setiawangsa women’s chief Rusni Melan – who died of a heart attack after he was chased by police during the rally.

The police have denied involvement in his death, saying that Baharuddin did not die out of complication arising from exposure to tear gas.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who initiated the silent memorial said it pained him to see his friends injured as the result of the police’s reaction against the protesters.

“But nothing can be more painful than to know of Baharuddin’s death, so let us remember him,” he said.

“And no matter how much pain they are suffering, these two leaders have come… this is the kind of leaders we want, those who would go through thick and thin with the rakyat,” he added, referring to Mat Sabu and Anwar.

Despite having to go for a leg surgery this Friday, Mat Sabu, who spoke in his wheelchair, was in high-spirits as he entertained the crowd.

“Najib lies! Najib lies! Najib lies!” shouted Mat Sabu, asking the crowd to echo him several times as he related a series of incidences where Najib “flip-flopped” in his handling of the Bersih rally.

However, despite all the bad blood between the opposition and the police, Mat Sabu said “all is not lost yet”.

He advised the force not to be partisan since “if tomorrow BN is gone, you will still be around”.

He urged the police to protect the rakyat, not Umno.

“But if you protect Umno, if they fall, you will fall also,” he added.

“It is still not too late to act professionally in your duties… do not work for Umno, which is rotting internally.”

  1. #1 by dagen on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 - 11:34 am

    Stupid umno. Stupid jibby jib. Kick them out. We cant hv stupid party and stupid leaders.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 - 11:53 am

    Jibbi’s view of Crackdown 2.0 on 9th July–

    1.Baharuddin Ahmad deliberately caught hold of a tear gas canister and pressed it against his nose, inhaling all the gas.

    2. Mat Sabu deliberately jumped down from his motorbike, and then used a hammer to knock up his kneecap.

    3. Anwar snatch a tear gas gun from the police and then used it to shoot himself in his neck, just as in 1998 when he deliberately punched himself to get a black eye.

    4. Seberang Perai municipal councillor Oon Neow Aun who witnessed the police firing tear gas into the Tung Shin hospital will be ‘invited to tea’ by the police. After that he will admit that he has been paid by the dap to make up the claim.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 - 12:20 pm

    PR, don’t steal and politicise “Bersih” from the NGOs and civil society.

    The 9th July assembly was a failure. Yes, a failure !!!!

    Like ‘Operation Market Garden’ during the Second World War, Bersih 2.0 FAILED to achieve its OBJECTIVE – to deliver a memorandum to the King, calling for free and fair elections and for election reforms.

    To be sure, the BN government, using its institutions and playing dirty, was all out in its attempt to make sure that this did not happen and the Objective not met. Barriers were put out all the way and the Palace sealed off. There was no way the marchers will ever reach the Palace to deliver their petition.

    That was the BN’s INTENTION – that no memorandum can be delivered to the King and in this the BN won the day. Bersih failed.

    All attention was instead diverted to the illegal assemblies taking place in central KL. This is pulling wool over the eyes of the public. It was to divert attention from the Objective.

    The assembly and the march was only the MEANS and PROCESS to reach the Objective (which was not met).

    The assembly and march is meaningless if the Objective is not met, just as in Operation Market Garden.

    But having said this, it is obvious that the people have a just cause and want the King to taken action for the good of his people.

    They are willing to rise to the occasion and rally and take their case to their King.

    That civil society can rally the people in large numbers is without a doubt and they have rallied them on a number of occasions successfully despite the odds and obstacles. Last Saturday was an example.

    The BN government has to accept that there is something wrong in their administration and not bury everything under the carpet using sheer brute force. They have to accept that at least half the country is against their rotting administration.

    Bersih and civil society is a force to be reckoned with and their voices must be heard. I am sure the King appreciates this.

    What next Bersih?

    Go the next step – ACHIEVE your OBJECTIVE.

    Fix an appointment with the King and present your petition. According to our National Poet Samad, the King had already agreed to receive the petition. So go for it.

    Achieve your Objective. Shame those who put obstacles in your way. They can’t prevent you from achieving your Objective if you have an appointment with the King. You will be welcomed at the Palace.

    You have made your point that the people have assembled and are with you – all over the word, the diaspora.

    The way forward is very clear, no obstacles.

    GO FOR IT !!!

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 - 12:21 pm

    Ah, moderated yet again. I guess everything is still sensitive.

You must be logged in to post a comment.