Untameable Bersih – Part 1

By Sakmongkol AK47
July 12, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JULY 12 — The object of derision and concern is the Election Commission. How does the government respond?

It did so by demonising the Bersih rally. The PM went a step further and went on his, well, now predictable, charm offensive. The business people complaining on TV3 about lost business would also not be doing good business on a normal day. But their grievance is now useful to the government because it can be used as testimony that the rally caused severe economic hardship.

The Egyptian tourist, who talked about something similar happening in Cairo some weeks ago, was probably looking for a good time in Bukit Bintang. He was also probably searching for Datuk Eskay whom he may have heard can arrange for a good time for horny Egyptians.

What about those who made a roaring business because marchers were hungry and thirsty? Ask the “mother of fish head curry” shop how much business it made that day? What about the vendor selling cold drinks on that hot day?

We will allow that president of the mamak eateries to state how much he can make in one day and then we will let the Inland Revenue Board calculate whether he has been paying taxes on that daily revenue.

One day after the Bersih rally, the Umno president came out with possibly his most forceful speech to date. He spoke with such intensity, vehemence and vigour and would surely succeed in inspiring the Umno faithful. We have a fighting president after all. He seems almost believable.

He has thus redeemed himself — to be forceful and firm as demanded by Ibrahim Ali. Let’s see how the Umno president manages his newfound vigorousness against the competing demands by anti-Bersih online petitioners asking him to take stern action against Bersih organisers, and the petitioners demanding his resignation. Will the intensity that aided him during his fiery speech help him?

Bersih has taken a life of its own and would have become what it became even if Ambiga wasn’t around. Isn’t it embarrassing for anyone to respond to suggestions that Ambiga’s title be taken back and even her citizenship revoked? Isn’t this a sign of shallowness and an example of pitiable pettiness?

How would I understand his explosive speech? In order to properly place that speech in its context, we need to understand what Bersih has evolved into. Bersih started with its eight demands on electoral reform. That shouldn’t scare Umno in the first place. No problem with postal voting because violation on postal voting isn’t as widespread as it was a long time ago. Unless of course the candidates’ representatives during the voting and counting process were sleeping.

There should not be any problem even if registration is made compulsory on reaching 21 years of age. Cleaning up the electoral rolls of dead people shouldn’t be much of a problem because this is more administrative and technical. Making voting transparent shouldn’t be a problem too.

The big issues are always money politics, gerrymandering and phantom voters. Thousands of people in Sabah are being issued ICs with addresses in Kelantan! Now this is a problem.

Gerrymandering is a real problem. It seems that Umno can only ensure it has more reps in Parliament by creating more parliamentary seats of maybe with 5,000 voters per constituent. Hence an Umno MP represents 5,000 people, while his opposite number represents 30,000 people. The Umno MP represents the same number if that number includes 10,000 police and 10,000 army voters.

What has Bersih become? To me Bersih has come to represent the people’s willingness to translate beliefs into action. That’s what is troubling the Umno president. Bersih represents wilful readiness to translate articulation into action. The shocking thing is, he couldn’t detect the same voluntariness and missionary zeal among Umno people! No money, no move.

In response, he came out with his fiery speech upon pressing the panic button.

Which silent majority is he talking? How would we categorise the more than 100,000 people asking him to resign? Maybe they are the silent subversives, anti-Malay, anti-Islam and so on. Perhaps, even traitors.

Here is another troubling thing for me. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to whom everyone pledges allegiance and loyalty, has ruled for conciliation. Yet the home minister countermanded that rule by unleashing security forces on peaceful marchers. Did the police find any weapons among Bersih supporters that day?

I am sure the video clip showing the man who eventually died while participating in the rally while still in handcuffs will be played over and again in the next coming general election. The opposition already has a weapon. A portent one more worrisome than Anwar’s black eye!

Anwar Ibrahim? He was largely incidental in the Bersih rally because the Bersih rally actually and truly wasn’t about him. If he participated in the rally because of some personal motives, who are we to fault him on that?

At least he wasn’t as stupid as the ex-ITM guy who went around telling people that Bersih was really about overthrowing a Malay government. Seventy per cent of the rally participants were Malays!

Now, the number who attended the promptly arranged special penerangan session by Umno was 6,000, as claimed by the organisers. I am thinking this impromptu congregation was planned by the backroom boys and the PM’s strategists; only they could come out with this magical number! Definitely it wasn’t planned by the Umno information chief. We couldn’t give too much credit to Ahmad Maslan the Umno information chief.

Except it also got me thinking — hmm, the number is almost the same as the figure attributed to the Bersih marchers. How come the number of marchers seems to fill up whole streets and stadiums, yet the number is still 6,000? The number of delegates to any Umno general assembly at any one time is around 2,500. That means, around 3,500 were standing on the balcony in the hall.

It’s a miracle that with that big an attendance the building didn’t collapse under the collective weight. But it’s been four years that I have not attended the Umno general assembly, maybe they have enlarged the space.

The Umno president was talking to his flock. So, we should not over-read the significance. You MUST sound fighting among your own people lest morale is lost. Even if 6,000 attended, that’s still not a number that can win votes. That represents a miniscule proportion of Malay voters.

So, let’s remind my Umno friends of the number. In 2008, there were 5.7 million Malay voters. How many did Umno candidates get? Umno got 2.38 million votes. Assuming 380,000 votes came from non-Malays, Umno candidates got only two million votes.

That’s strange. Umno has 3.5 million members, yet it got only two million votes? If we assume that all the two million votes came from Umno members, then 1.5 million Umno members did not vote Umno candidates for 1,001 reasons.

Therefore I am not easily impressed when the Umno president said, if we want, we can have three million marchers. Unless they are bussed into the city, given a T-shirt or maybe two for the missus back home, a packet of lamb or chicken mandi, RM50 pocket money and a night’s stay at Chow Kit. — sakmongkol.blogspot.com

  1. #1 by for my country1 on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 - 4:46 pm

    “The big issues are always money politics, gerrymandering and phantom voters. Thousands of people in Sabah are being issued ICs with addresses in Kelantan! Now this is a problem.”

    And the EC still maintained it is clean !

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