Bersih 3.0, the fear factor

— Thomas Fann
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 24, 2012

APRIL 24 — As I write this, we are just four days away from April 28, 2012. It is the day which the Bersih 2.0 steering committee has chosen to have Bersih 3.0, a sit-down protest called by its BM name Duduk Bantah. It is late at night and I am sleepless. As I lay awake, I reminisced about Bersih 2.0 held last year on July 9.

However, this time round, Bersih 3.0 is no longer an option for me for I found myself roped into the committee organising it simultaneously with the KL event, in my city. The band of us was crazy enough, probably foolish as well, to even consider doing it. Probably the experiences of July 9, 2011 have hardened our resolve to push for change and we didn’t want our beloved city to miss out on it.

But I am realising that it is one thing to risk your own life and another to be in a position where you may also be risking the lives of others. It is a fear that is multiplied by the number of those who will be coming out to sit down and protest.

Wait a minute! We are just talking about we, the citizens, wanting to say that we think the present electoral system and roll needs to be improved and cleaned up. All we are asking is two hours to sit down in a public space to voice our concerns. Why should we be afraid? Yet, we are.

Earlier, we were out distributing our flyers promoting the event and we could see the fear in the eyes of people. It is not that they do not support the cause, I mean, who doesn’t want a free and fair election, who doesn’t want to get rid of corruption and dirty politics? Yet, the question asked by many is, “Polis tangkap tak?” Or “Will the police arrest us?” We have come to a point where we are even afraid to wear yellow! We are truly a pathetic lot!

But this fear of arrest and even brutality is understandable, almost. Because we have seen it. Not just at the protest last year, whose image is still fresh in the minds of people, but we have seen it in our country the past 54 years and probably even longer when we were colonised. I believe there is a stronghold of fear over our nation, a spirit of intimidation that hovers over all of us. Fear paralyses us and discourages us from doing what we know is right. It makes us put up with evil even though we abhor it. Evil triumphs.

Edmund Burke’s quote comes to mind — “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I believe that there are more good people in Malaysia than there are evil ones. But they remain paralysed by fear.

We need to break this stranglehold of fear over our society, we need to set ourselves and our people free.


One at a time. One person breaking through at a time because we find courage in the courage of others. When we push through our own fears, we find courage on the other side. Nelson Mandela said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

I feel afraid but I know I cannot afford to be. So I push and push through the layers of fear which are like strong cobwebs trying to hold me back. Others are looking to us. The good people who want to do the right thing are looking to us. We cannot but overcome our fears and step forward on April 28 and do the right thing for this nation.

The spirit of intimidation must be defeated once and forever so that our people can be free. “Free at last; free at last; thank God Almighty we are free at last.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

* Thomas Fann is co-chairman of Bersih 3.0 Johor Baru.

  1. #1 by drngsc on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 9:23 am

    Having been to Bersih 2.0, and now planning to go to Bersih 3.0, I will say that there is nothing much to fear, except Fear itself.
    Please the wish to see clean, free and fair elections, must be stronger than the fear of what may happen.
    This round ( Bersih 3.0 ) should be less scary than Bersih 2.0. Remember in July 1011, how they locked down KL and declare us illegals? How they create massive traffic jams in an attempt to force public opinion against us? Still we were out there, despite the weight of government against us.
    This time, except for the tussle over the venue, His-shame-muddin, has said that we are no threat so should be allowed to proceed.
    By the way, this time we also have have a medic team in attendance. there will be specialist out there, just in case. We also advise those with pre-existing conditions, if you wish to join Bersih 3.0 DUDUK BANTAH, to prepare by taking your medications regularly this week especially, drink adequate fluids, carry your prescribed emergency medication with you when you come, and it would be nice, if you have a medic card with a diagnosis, in your wallet. That will help us. First aid kits all over the walks and padang. There will be medical specialist out there. There will be ambulances with defibs at vantage points. We also want a safe DUDUK BANTAH for all those who come.

    Let our need for change overcome the fear for the government of the day. We all want a clean, free and fair elections. That is all.

    With a clean, free and fair GE 13, we can change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13, the mother of all elections is coming soon. First to Bersih 3.0, then to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

    Change we must, change we can, Change we will.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 9:26 am

    April 28, 2012 is a demo of PEOPLE POWER and not the demo of fear!

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 10:12 am

    Will the authorities now get court orders to prevent citizens from gathering at the Dataran and at other places in other cities and towns nationwide?

  4. #4 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 11:01 am

    It is understandable to have fear in this country. The licensed thugs in uniforms have been conditioned to dish out brutal treatment to anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path. What else can you expect from a force whose No.1 would not hesitate to brutalised and beat up even a hooded DPM, no less? And the deaths of people like Kugan, TBH and Ahmad Sharbani while in their custody are testament to their scant regard for human rights or lives. And to make matters worse, the culprits not only gets away scot free but at worst receives only a token slap on the wrist.

    Very sinister is the low key reaction to Bersih 3 by the Govt this time around. They learned from their lessons in Bersih 2 when they over reacted and instead of derailing the march, they hardened the people’s resolve further with each dirty trick as they tried to prevent it happening. The international condemnation that followed has taught them to lie low this time around but Bersih 3 will do well to be on their guard because it is not in the BN DNA to take this lying down. Just as they outsourced their thuggish intimidation to break up the PTPTN camp -out at the Dataran recently, it is likely they will again outsourced violent trouble making attempts to their extremist NGOs to try to trigger a reaction from the Bersih marchers that will give their licensed thugs the excuse to move in to break up the rally. Bersih needs to get their cameras ready to capture all the evidence to prove this.

  5. #5 by bumiborn on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 12:02 pm

    I solute those that participated in Bersih 2 and Perhimpunan Hijau. Their courage is admirable. They are brave. Righteousness shall be the guide, not fear.
    Let’s go Duduk Bantah, we want transparent and clean government.

  6. #6 by PoliticoKat on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 12:09 pm

    But just in case, learn some thai boxing to give you a body that can take a beating before, during and after capture.

    Plan you exist strategy and get some good running shoes when you need to run from FRU, Rela or Perkasa.

    Pack gas mask. Pack latex gloves. Get ready your tear gas / chemical treatment kit. Don’t have one, look up the internet.

    Pack camera for youtube video. Life streaming site also useful.

    Do not get violent with the FRU or cops. The quality of recruits as with everything in Malaysia has fallen over the decades. So the young cop on the street is going to be a bit excitable and likely to use excess force. They don’t have enough training… just getting them good enough to investigate crime is a challenge.

    Perkasa, Pemuda UMNO or Rela who come out to play…. use your discretion. Remember they will be filming you, hoping to get a beating to show that Bersih supporters are violent.

    Film everything.

  7. #7 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 12:42 pm

    Up till today still no news of umno wanting to lockdown the city. That is odd. No news of perkasa wanting to hold a similar duduk but of the kotor variety. Or, of the hairy monkey wanting to have another moral victory. (The last time he and gang’s moral victory march lasted a very far 50m. Perhaps this round he and gang would duduk a very long 5 mins? Oh whatever!) And and of course the silat pro-kotor (kerana anti-bersih) stunt. Where are they?

    Do I sense a good business opportunity for cintanegara? Hoi, u punya pokok rambutan sudah berbuah ke belum? Kalau belum, quick secure your supplier now! Umno and gang need them!

    But believe me, jib and cousin will still direct the police to hold road blocks on that day. So do come into the city early. Better still, come in the day before and stay the night in the city.


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