Dataran Merdeka is not Tahrir Square: Malaysia is not Eygpt

— Tommy Thomas
The Malaysian Insider
May 07, 2012

MAY 7 — The Prime Minister’s recent statement that Bersih supporters intended to occupy Dataran Merdeka and stay there for days with the objective of overthrowing his government must be answered.

Two broad groups made up Bersih’s massive crowd in Kuala Lumpur on

April 28, 2012. First, genuine Bersih supporters who were calling for clean elections. The second group comprised those who support the Pakatan Coalition. No doubt, thousands of marchers did not belong to either faction (while some straddled both), but this broad division is not inaccurate.

The Bersih supporters just cannot understand how any political party would oppose clean elections. For them, Barisan Nasional’s vigorous opposition, coupled with police brutality that day, indicates that Barisan Nasional has a vested interest with the “status quo”, that it will benefit from the present set-up, with substantial help from the Election Commission.

For this group, Barisan Nasional’s conduct will be punished at the ballot box.

For Pakatan supporters, the decision was already made. They are partisan, just as UMNO supporters are partisan. Nothing that could have occurred on April 28 would change their vote.

But in each case, change was only going to come at the ballot box, when general elections are held. The only way of changing governments in Malaysia is by the vote. No other method will be countenanced by the people; no other mode has been advocated by any political party. In fact, the surest way for any party or politician to lose support is to propose extra-legal methods of changing the government. Change must be constitutional and lawful.

Accordingly, no one went for the Bersih “sit-in” or “walk-in” in Kuala Lumpur on April 28 with the intention of staying overnight, whether on the Dataran or anywhere else in the city. In the course of walking miles through numerous streets for five hours observing thousands of fellow marchers, I did not see a single person equipped for a long stay, like bringing tents, sleeping bags, blankets, towels, etc. Indeed, the Malaysian obsession with food and drinks was such that restaurants enjoyed roaring business that evening. That was the primary objective of those who marched!! Having regard to this food-mania of our people, how would they have coped for days and nights in an “Occupy Dataran” campaign?

It is an open secret that the hawks and hardliners advising the Prime Minister always frighten him with the spectre of Tahrir Square. But there is no parallel with Egypt, or for that matter Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and Syria where the Arab Spring flowered. But even in these countries, it never advanced to the Arab Summer! Reform has halted, and the old power structures are very much in place.

By comparison, Malaysia is far more advanced politically and economically.

Ours is a more mature society. The average Malaysian enjoys far more democratic rights and space than citizens in these nations. In some of these countries, unemployment is as high as 25 per cent. In Malaysia, not only do we have full employment, we also provide work for some 3-4 million immigrants. Malaysia is a blessed land.

At the other end of the spectrum, Malaysia is also different from the United

States. The conditions are not ripe for an “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Malaysians are generally conservative, cautious, resistant to change, and absolutely peaceful, abhorring violence. We are too spoilt to endure the inconvenience and hardship associated with any “occupy” movement.

Accordingly, we who marched were exercising our democratic rights of expression and assembly. For that purpose, we did not have to sleep overnight in the city.

There is absolutely no intention to overthrow the Barisan Nasional government by crude methods. Rather, if a clear majority of Malaysians vote against them (and, that is, translated into seats) at the forthcoming general elections, Barisan Nasional will be dispatched to the opposition benches. But not by any other means.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 9:49 pm

    Najib should stop being paranoid about his government being toppled by Bersih supporters.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 9:53 pm

    Najib has nothing better to say…so he has to say something to make it sound logical …without realizing he is making a fool of himself.
    Mahathir now ask Malaysians to give Najib a big win on the 13th that Najib can bring ISA back.
    It’s going round and round and coming back to the same corrupted….dictatorial ways ..they are used to…. governing the country and people.
    All in all..they are hoping and praying vast majority Malaysians are backwards and stupid….while Najib is planning how to release his 3 million phantom votes…. to win.
    Berish 3 …he ran to Kuching.
    Win by cheating….he needs to run away permanently.
    He is thinking……..

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 9:59 pm

    You all got it wrong.

    Najib, Mahathir, the ex-IGPs and the Police were actually referring to the ‘Occupy Dataran’ activists and the anti-PTPTN student campers.

    The government is afraid these few campers might overthrow them overnight. Najib and Co. were already having nightmares past month or so and didn’t want to take chances.

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 10:24 pm

    Well, with all the wrongs they have committed all years long; they are seeing shadows everywhere. It is their guilty conscience that roubked them, nothing more! Without doubt, they will continue to dream of all their past sins as they grow older and nearer …

  5. #5 by cseng on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 11:17 pm

    Keep your hand high and push the limit, when ground resistance grow stronger, it eventually hit the tipping point. That is law of physic.

    In 2008, EC defined the simple majority starts at 18% of total voters, at constituencies of your advantage. Why so scare?

  6. #6 by cseng on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 11:27 pm

    Tipping point of Jasmine revolution started when Mohd Boazizi set himself on fire, after his injustice and helplessness, that hit the limit for Tunisian.

    Hey! we are Malaysian, we got no limit, when we say enough!, it means somemore.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Monday, 7 May 2012 - 11:43 pm

    We all got it all wrong and then…Sheriff Signh get confused and asks question after question.
    hi man…steady your mind.

  8. #8 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 4:29 am

    Before Bersih 3.0, UMNO leaders including Mahathir and Najib said that a Tahrir Square could not happen in Malaysia and yet now they are accusing its Bersih’s intent.

    It was arrogant of UMNO to go around saying it could not happen but now they are maliciously lying to their teeth its imminent – just so they can avoid being objective.

    Its similarly with our national finances – they say we can’t afford subsidies but won’t take away subsidies for cronies AND still when they are politically challenged willing to destroy our national coffers to win votes.

    Bersih 3.0 is simply about UMNO-Perkasa/BN doing their job that they are not. In fact, they keep refusing to do it, seemingly incapable of handling it merely becoming expert at excuse giving.

  9. #9 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 7:06 am

    To the OLD MAN, BN is the life-line for the Family ensuring that no further investigation will come about; otherwise the floodgate will open;then we can all see how brilliance he could be in answering all the wantonness he had created under Bapa Ekonomik of Malaysia. No BN peopel want to explain the BILLIONS that PETRONAS had earned for the last 30 years. One mat have to believe the flyers aroubnd stating their pockets of millions being hidden in Israel Bank. So the support for BN has to be carried on, no matter who is driving this machine! Hence IT has to GO!

  10. #10 by lee wee tak_ on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 7:20 am

    topple the government? Ah Jib Kor, your method and means in Perak is most despictable with the judiciary implicated and god knows how much we tax payers paid for it whereas for Bersih, we aim for clean election. If that equals to toppling BN administration then it can de deduced that BN gain power by unclean means and perhaps this explains why BN administration reacted just like a cornered animal

  11. #11 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 7:31 am

    YB, kerana apa, tiada comment mengenai Mogok oleh para-pemandu di Pelabuhan Klang?

  12. #12 by drngsc on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 8:15 am

    Dear Jib Ngor,
    You do not seem to understand, we do not wish to topple you. We wish to vote you out of office, and change the tenant at Putrajaya, through the ballot box. Since you have corrupted the election process so much, we have to clean it up so that we can have a clean free and fair election. 18% of popular votes, mainly by illegals, can win an election.
    Do you not know that you are a traitor, selling our election to illegals. Bersih 3.0 is trying to save Malaysia from you,
    No we are not Tahir square. We only wish to sit in Dataran Merdeka. I hope that you can see the difference.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. Let us not be sidetracked by hand gestures and tear gas and water cannon. Let us first take back Putrajaya for Malaysia. GE 13, the mother of all election is coming very soon. Let us work very very hard. Everyone who is eligible, to register, and all registered to vote. We must take back Malaysia for Malaysians.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will.

  13. #13 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 8:35 am

    Stupid jib and umno. Tahrir square? Of course not. We are nothing like that. And jib need not fear the eventual consequence that met that Libyian madman. None of those will happen here. We have laws and the constitution (well and also those draconian laws passed by umno). And we respect the monarchy. This is mighty important.

    The arabs and north africans ousted their respective gobermen by force. That will not do. It will only bring chaos. We know that. And we also understand that chaos is a very very very poor and indeed dangerous alternative to (in the context of middle-east nations etc) dictatorship. So jib and umno have nothing to worry, really.

    Instead, here we will rely on the ballot box to vote a new gobermen into office – to replace jib and umno, so to speak. We want a fair election process for that to be possible because for too long umno has enjoyed an unfair (and in fact in most instances, illegal) advantage, during election time, over the opposition. We want those illegal advantages removed.

    I hope jib and umno can sleep better now.

  14. #14 by cseng on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 9:34 am

    Since M’sia is not eygpt, merdeka isn’t tahrir, how come we keep seeing Hosni Mubarak’s shadow actions here?

    These is from wiki about Mubarak, (you can choose not to trust wiki)

    1) Their election involved mass rigging activties, Votes were bought for Mubarak in poor suburbs and rural areas. It was also reported that thousands of illegal votes were allowed for Mubarak from citizens who were not registered to vote (Mubarak opponents take to streets, allege rigging”. LivePunjab. 12 September 2005.

    2) While in office, political corruption in the Mubarak administration’s Ministry of Interior rose dramatically, due to the increased power over the institutional system that is necessary to secure the prolonged presidency. Such corruption has led to the imprisonment of political figures and young activists without trials. (Suzanne Choney (27 January 2011). “Egyptian bloggers brave police intimidation”. MSNBC.

    3.”corruption remained a significant problem under Mubarak, who promised to do much, but in fact neither did anything significant to tackle it effectively (“Country Report – Egypt”. In 2010, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index report assessed Egypt with a CPI score of 3.1, based on perceptions of the degree of corruption from business people and country analysts, with 10 being very clean and 0 being highly corrupt. Egypt ranked 98th out of the 178 countries included in the report

    4. Under the law, police powers are extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship is legalized. The law sharply circumscribes any non-governmental political activity: street demonstrations, non-approved political organizations, and unregistered financial donations are formally banned. Some 17,000 people are detained under the law, and estimates of political prisoners run as high as 30,000. (Under the law, police powers are extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship is legalized. (R. Clemente Holder (1994-08). “Egyptian Lawyer’s Death Triggers Cairo Protests”. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

  15. #15 by Comrade on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 12:48 pm

    Bersih 3.0 protesters came in peace
    Asking only for electoral frauds to cease
    They were not out to overthrow those in office
    They were instead bullied by the police
    Bersih’s demands will overthrow the gov’t of the day
    If not implemented, Bersih 4.0 will be on the way

  16. #16 by mauriyaII on Tuesday, 8 May 2012 - 6:28 pm

    BERSIH 3.0 is for a CLEAN AND FAIR elections. They do not want to prolong a DIRTY election process where gerrymandering, blatant vote buying, selling MyKads to foreigners, phantom voters and dubious postal votes which have been the modus operandi of UMNO/BN for clinging on to power.

    The partner in committing the above crimes against the rakyat is none other than the EC. Instead of being a non-partisan and neutral body, the EC has morphed into the lackey and errand boy of UMNO/BN.

    Even after the many discrepancies in the electoral roll has been pointed out by political parties and NGOs who want a clean and fair elections, the EC is dragging its feet to clean up the roll. Its chairman gives out ridiculous and idiotic explanations for the various anomalies found in the electoral roll.

    Instead of endeavoring to clean up and ensure a level playing field for everyone concerned, he is bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of his UMNO/BN masters.

    As the writer pointed out, participants at the BERSIH 3.0 were there to have some fun, enjoy the camaraderie with fellow Malaysians from all walks of life and to DRIVE HOME THE POINT THEY WANT A CLEAN AND FAIR ELECTIONS.

    They went to DATARAN MERDEKA not to topple the government by violence. They would not have dreamed of such a thing even in their wildest dreams.

    They were only armed with water and a little bit of salt. Who ever heard of a country being toppled by the power salt and water against the lethal power of water cannons, tear gas, etc wielded by the police?

    BERSIH 3.0 would have been a very peaceful sit-in and outing for the participants if the Home Minister had not sent in the PDRM to cause havoc and mayhem and brutalize the participants.

    The Home Minister and the PM who decided to be away on such an important day should be held responsible and accountable for causing so much misery and hardship to the rakyat on 428.

    They need to apologize to all Malaysians for equating BERSIH 3.0 to the Arab Spring uprising in the Middle East.

    The Bersih organizers should be prepared to go for BERSIH 4.0 in the event the government goes ahead to hold the 13th GE without meeting its demands for a total revamping of the election process in the country. The EC chairman should be replaced immediately for bringing disrepute to such an important and impartial institution.

    Halfhearted and duplicitous measures to placate the rakyat won’t do.

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