Who caused Bersih 3.0 chaos?

– Muhammad Farouk
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 28, 2012

APRIL 28 – Bersih 3.0 is over, cut short by teargas and water cannons raining on those converging at Dataran Merdeka today. Thousands of Malaysians surrounded the square patch of grass, once known for its cricket, but now garlanded by barbed wires, fencing, plastic barriers and guarded by riot police and policemen.

It was supposed to be a peaceful sit-in, and for hours, it was. Until some people apparently went through the barricades of a public square barred to the public. The riot police snapped to action and plumes of teargas wafted through the air and streams of jet from water cannons rained on the people. And mayhem ensued.

Now, who do we blame for this? The authorities for not learning the lessons of Bersih 2.0? Bersih people for being hijacked by politicians? Who else can we blame?

The authorities have made up their minds about this. From yesterday, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein briefed mainstream media editors and told them the government had done its best to have a peaceful rally.

They offered Stadium Merdeka, the venue that was denied to Bersih 2.0.

The Home Minister warned that the police would have to guarantee security if things went out of hand, saying that there were politicians out to hijack the movement. This was after the police got court order that turned every Malaysian a persona non grata at Dataran Merdeka, where the British Union Jack was lowered down for the last time on our soil in 1957.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman told the same story to the foreign press yesterday. That the government had bent over backwards but the Bersih organisers were obstinate. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the same thing today too in Kuching, far away from Ground Zero in Dataran Merdeka. Funny, there were no untoward incidents in other cities in Malaysia or across the world.

Only in Dataran Merdeka. Where pandemonium broke out. Where Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and a host of other Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders turned up. So, naturally, they get the blame.

Of course, the mainstream media has picked on this and have blamed these political leaders for what happened around Dataran Merdeka today. It is easy and convenient to say that they were behind the chaos. Simple mathematics really, a huge crowd facing rows of policemen under the hot sun plus opposition politicians and what do you get? Chaos.

Except, the riot police didn’t really have to fire teargas and water cannons repeatedly and chase people until 7pm. The authorities didn’t have to put up roadblocks or stop LRT trains from taking or dropping passengers at the several LRT stations in the vicinity.

It was a peaceful assembly outside the zone barred by law. The crowd was young and old, from all walks of life. They wanted to show they cared for a clean and fair election that would benefit everyone, especially the politicians.

However, the police decided otherwise. They decided to rain on the people’s parade and conveniently, the establishment can blame Anwar for it. As easy as that.

But they will have to account for the streams of Instagrams, Facebook photographs and videos uploaded since this morning to reinforce their innocence or guilt. The people know better.

We know who to blame for today’s mayhem. We know who to vote for in the next general election. The ones who stopped us from sitting down, the ones who sprayed gas and water at us because we cared for Malaysia’s future won’t get our vote but our eternal damnation.

So go on and blame Anwar and the rest. We know better.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 28 April 2012 - 11:26 pm

    Of course had this Bersih 3.0 been allowed to be held in Dataran Merdeka – and I cannot think of one cogent reason (except pride or just an attempt to show firmness) why our Home Ministry & (outsource agency DBKL) should say “no” – there might not exist of the problem of protestors overstaying after end of event in obstruction of traffic. After all Dataran is a public square, so what if it’s historical to signify the nation’s momentous milestones? So is Stadium Merdeka in which Tunku made the clarion call for the country’s birth! If Stadium Merdeka were Ok for Bershih 3.0, why would Dataran be not? Every night all kind of people occupy that place that include the idle, the lepak and the Mat Rempits. If the authorities had allowed Dataran with its wide padang to house all, maybe only certain roads leading to it may be closed but having refused Dataran the tens of thousands were occupying all main roads (Jln TAR, Jln Hishamuddin, JlnTun Perak, Jln Raja Laut and even side lanes and back lanes all in one big carnival/party. This required the whole KL to be locked down. The only ones making super bumper profits were the mamak restaurants, hawkers, coffee shops, McDonald & Burger King along these roads, and the hotels and motels but other than these the rest of KL were suffering: for eg what about the retailers/boutiques in shopping complexes in heart of city like Pavilion, Fahrenheit etc? From Morning until evening no business though rental and wages have to be paid, thanks to Bersih, with the govt not compromising on venue!

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Saturday, 28 April 2012 - 11:39 pm

    Datuk Bandar, Fuad Ismail, is to blame for today’s chaos. It is a simple logic that one man (Fuad Ismail) could not go against the wish of 100,000 or 300,000 people who wanted to use Dataran Merdeka. The Square belongs to the rakyat and they have the right to use it to collectively voice their electoral grievances.

    It is important to revive local government elections so as to return power to the people to guard against historic sites such as Dataran Merdeka and Stadium Merdeka.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 28 April 2012 - 11:47 pm

    Blame fuad? Wait a sec. Isnt that what umno wanted? Blame opposition and if that should fail then let the blame fall on datuk bandar. No its umno all along with all those stupid tricks. We all knew all along. And btw can someone from perkasa pls reclaim your fake explosives from the police?

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Saturday, 28 April 2012 - 11:54 pm

    Judging from today’s turnout at the Bersih 3.0 rally, Najib has an uphill task to regain two third majority vote.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:18 am

    But never mind, some kind of compromise/deal had been reached and accepted by Bersih ith authorities: that its supporters would not breach the barricade and try to “retake” Dataran in violation of court order. Najib/ Hishammuddin & PDRM had also delivered their part in the sense that in spite of heavy police/security forces presence in the city esp Dataran there were, unlike Bersih 2.0 no chemical laced water cannon tear gas baton etc used on Bersih’s or opposition’s officials or supporters making their way in large numbers from various parts of the city towards the gathering point peripheral to Dataran at Masjid Jamek Jln Tun Perak right up to Dataran, and at the other side, beyond to National Mosque.Then it came to the end officially at 2.30 pm – 2.45 when Ambiga & Anwar exhorted supporters to disperse.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:20 am

    Bersih organizers however did not synchronize it such that every section of the crowd from one end to the other (with Dataran in-between) heard it. Bersih organizers however did not synchronise it such that every section of the crowd from one end to the other (with Dataran in-between) heard it. There were supporters who though might have heard it but they refused to go home. They didn’t come all the way to have to go back that soon! Besides PKR’s Tian Chua, Dr Abdul Aziz Bari and Bersih’s Wong Chin Huat were even hanging around until way past 5 pm (so why wouldn’t some groups of supporters)? Yes PAS Unit Amal (security unit) did make rounds, urging the remaining protesters to disperse but that was almost 3 hour after the event officially ended at half past 2!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:20 am

    Some of these protestors had tried to breach the Dataran Merdeka cordon at 3 pm. provoking PDRM’s strong traditional response including tear gas and arrests. Protesters threw shoes bottles and objects in return. [According to reports “2 policemen injured with one having his firearm snatched though later recovered. 2 police cars were damaged by the crowd in Jln TAR] Bersih’s leaders arrested were those who hanged around with supporters way past the time the event ended. What does one expect PDRM to do if it were to consider the other aspect of public convenience? If Bersih’s supporter continued to throng and hog these main arterial public throughfares/roads way past its official end, what about the rest of the public wishing to get back into KL in the evening by their cars using these roads or their links? So who is to be blamed?

  8. #8 by limkamput on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:21 am

    If the police have allowed us to march all over KL, why not give us Dataran? Why the need to protect Dataran at all costs, for what? Oh, suddenly now it is the demonstrators’ fault. Many nearly died today, all for wanting to sit where they want to sit. Can we see the psy- war being staged here today? We have to ask ourselves why we have to go to the street in the first place. Precisely it was because the authority has never acted based on principles and procedures. That being the case, what decorum can we expect when the people go rallying? I strongly feel that if we continue to organise rally but without pushing through the message loud and clear, soon no one will turn up. If the authority is arrogant enough to shut down Dataran without valid reason, do you think they will ever listen to electoral reform? Dream on, my friends. Since when must organisers of rally guaranteeing safety? Why can’t the authority guarantee free and fair election? Not only the Home Minister blamed the demonstrators too easily, I think the leaders of Bersih too have shown too little sympathy. I was there (in front of Bar Council), they shot at us tear gas and water were without any provocation. Now you explain to me why?

  9. #9 by monsterball on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:26 am

    There are some BN guys disguised as Bersih supporters.
    Late at night…around 12.30 am Saturday morning..one stocky 40 year old man…told all the 20 odd young Malaysians ….who have been….protesting for 15 days…to contact him for a job…and guarantee all will be employed.
    I interrupted and asked him what has that to do with these guys sitting down…..protesting.
    He walked off.
    I donated money…food and gave them pep talks that at 2 PM…sit or walk for all issues…protest for the country and people and thousands will support their cause too. They agreed and thanked me.
    It was a sleepless Friday .up to 4PM for me.

  10. #10 by limkamput on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 12:33 am

    Those who talked about crap court order in situation like this are nincompoops.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 1:10 am

    Ambiga, you yourself conceded to abide the court order that your supporters would not break the police cordon over Dataran. That’s the deal with PDRM and until that breach PDRM had performed its part of bargain : can you blame PDRM for unleashing crowd dispersal strong arm tactics if some Bersih’s supporters breach that understanding – and the cordon observed since morning right till end at 2.30pm??? On the refusal by some to disperse and to breach the cordon in defiance of police, 2 things are to be here: (1) We cannot pretend that all 300,000 supporters are law and court order abiding. Many just hate the BN, the police etc and spoiled for a fight; (2) there were agent provocateurs who just did not want rally to end peacefully as it started. They might be UMNO/BN’s right wing politicians’ supporters wanting this break out of violence as excuse to stop future Bersih’s rally. On the other hand, they might also (likelier) be Opposition politicians’ supporters’ (I won’t mentionwhich party) who know that BN wouldn’t change electoral irregularities in time by GE, that opposition cannot win except either from galvanizing public sympathy / reformasi style street protests incited by PDRM’s harsh actions and clamp down. So they in turn will try to provoke PDRM’s from maintaining its restrained stance. If it’s (1) its still BN’s organisers’ obligation to rein them in here and make sure that such things don’t happen; if its case of (2), then Bersih is being used by politicians, depending on which side, for advancement of its agenda. Either way Bersih’s organisers cannot pretend that such agent provocateurs and their agenda is not present and the question also arises whether they have preempted such contingency and put in place counter measures to stop such a thing.

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 1:21 am

    ///Those who talked about crap court order in situation like this are nincompoops.///

    Then Ambiga & Bersih’s organisers must necessarily be all nincompoops for having publicly agreed & cut an understanding with authorities to observe that Court Order in exchange for PDRM’s restraint throughout the day. (So to is DAP’s Senator Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim for breaking ranks to say law/court order must be observed!) Then all of Bersih’smarchers should not have gathered, sat sung and chanted at Jalan Tun Perak/TAR. Right at noon when they reached there we should not have heeded nincompoop’s advice to observe the court order and should have just crashed through the barricade/barb wires and take on the phalanx of PDRM defending that Square like a citadel based on the court order and chase them out, whatever the costs.

  13. #13 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 1:30 am

    ///I was there (in front of Bar Council), they shot at us tear gas and water were without any provocation. Now you explain to me why?/// – LimKamPut

    Because they were dispersing the crowd after official ending at about 2.30 pm and after some of the crowd at the Tun Perak/TAR had already breached the Bersih/Authorities “understanding” of not breaking the court sanctioned cordon around it. So the tear gas was lobbed from that point and from there down the roads along Tun Perak/TAR direction to disperse the large crowds along these roads that otherwise might have surged into Dataran to fight the police….

    the crowd of

  14. #14 by limkamput on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 1:38 am

    Go read my post again, which part you don’t understand, please let me know. The problem with nincompoops is they tend to look at political issues from legalistic point of view. Even that, they failed to see the laws are never fairly applied in the first place. When there is no rule of law, who want to be subjected by rule by law?

  15. #15 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 1:51 am

    No one should pretend Laws are ever fairly applied. Indeed many laws are unjust. On question who want to be subjected by rule by law – when there is no “rule of law” in these senses- well one does not have to. He just has to accept the consequences of breaking it and take the state sanctioned punishment. One can make that decision for himself – thats OK – but for a leader of an organisation bringing 100,000 to the streets (including families and children), is it fair to instigate them to break these unjust laws with certain consequences that these people will be arrested, clobbered, injured or even killed in the process of defying armed uniformed trained men enforcing the ‘unfair’ & ‘unjust’ law so to speak?

  16. #16 by monsterball on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 7:19 am

    Strange….I was spending hours near ha group too…met so many bloggers ….and we greet each other…and yes….at that area…there were no violence…but I did smell ONE pretender ..dressed up like a real multi millionaire towkay….talking to the students…offering jobs..talking nonsense.
    I argued with him….and he walked off.
    He was trying to change the protesters minds with so call…happy news.
    I met a blogger
    “Mob1900″…came and shook hands with me.
    I would love to meet Limkamput.

  17. #17 by grace on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 8:35 am

    For the first time I truly feel myself to be Malaysian. When I see images of of people of different races marching together for a common cause, I am bowled over. Yes, there was no animosity among the Malays, Chinese and Indians neither was there any religious tension among Muslims, Christians or Hindus. On the contrary there was an air of carnival in KL where hawkers were able to sell drinks and food. There were the handicapped on wheel chairs, family with children and the blinds. And with such gathering of weak and handicaps, their intention is clear – to fight for a fair and clean election. Violence and chaos were never on their minds. It is the authority that hoped for such condition right from the beginning so that images of chaos can be splashed on the UMNO controlled newsmedia , just to blame it on BERSH 3. No longer will the public be fooled. We saw it all on the internet!!

  18. #18 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 9:36 am

    I put it out that it does not matter who did what that resulted in the chaos. The responsibility of it, of public order, is simply the UMNO-Perkasa/BN and they failed. It does not matter if PR lost control, or someone had malicious intent to cause it, students were bribed by promised of writing off PTPN loan or Anwar wants to be PM..

    At the end of the day, given what was Malaysia, is still today, can still be tomorrow, it should not need to happen at all. A properly governed Malaysia, given all its advantages, given all its possibilities, simply should be FAR from even been possible for such things to happen. And the responsibilities lies with UMNO-Perkasa/BN..

    The right way to view this is to compare to 513. In 513, most rural Malays had no clue how they feel about the issues much less the violence that was purposely exploited and purposely hyped to UMNO/BN advantage. What most feel yesterday was by the swath of the populaton – the violence was originally purposely restrained that was not a complete success. If there was malicious intent by any side, unlike 513, then they failed because both side agree they were wrong.

    What need to be appreciated is that if UMNO/BN had used 513 as an excuse, then PR NOT using yesterday violence as an excuse clearly gives them the superior view and the win for the current political debate. The hawks in UMNO have lost. Period.

  19. #19 by Albert Choong on Sunday, 29 April 2012 - 11:36 am

    A good write up on the political climate just before the coming 13th. GE. After attending the 250,000 member Bersih 3.0 peaceful rally in KL that turned nasty caused by the hidden hands of BN baru, I believed that we as loyal and true Malaysians are ready to CHANGE or UBAH the 54 year BN b government.

    A new DAWN and HOPE will be upon us soon. All Malaysians from all communities will have a fair and equity share of the wealth of the nation when the new government correct the policy and economic development plans and most importantly the education policy and system, which is the basic fundamental of Nation Building by all Malaysians.

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