BN government should call off the Bersih 3.0 demonisation campaign as the first step to prove to Malaysians that it is capable of responding rationally and responsibly to legitimate demands for clean elections

The Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said in today’s press that Malaysians should view the Bersih 3.0 demonstration in a more rational manner and look at the Government’s concern over what could go wrong if people took to the streets.

Unfortunately, in the past three weeks after the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, the government as represented by the Home Minister and the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak have themselves failed this simple test of acting in “a more rational manner” to address.the controversies of what went wrong on April 28 resulting in the incidents of violence and brutality, regardless of whether the victims were police personnel, media representatives or peaceful protestors.

Najib and Hishammuddin should call off the Bersih 3.0 demonisation campaign to paint Bersih 3.0, the organizers and participants, in the worst and most sinister light, as the first step for the BN government to prove to Malaysians that it is capable of responding rationally and responsibly to the people’s legitimate demands for clean elections.

The Bersih 3.0 demonisation campaign started with the wild and irresponsible allegation by the Prime Minister that it was an anti-national conspiracy which included a coup attempt by the Opposition to topple the government, which conspiracy theory was immediately given blind and unthinking support by the former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar when there was no iota of evidence; culminating in the “Great Lie and Spin” on TV1 on Sunday when the government station telecast a 30-minute “documentary” entitled “Bersih 3.0 itu Kotor” to poison the minds of viewers about Bersih 3.0.

What the BN spin-masters did not realise is that the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who gathered peacefully in Kuala Lumpur in response to the call of Bersih 3.0, and the millions who have direct information of what actually happened on April 28, could not identify with TV1 programme or agree that Bersih 3.0 was some grand or evil conspiracy to cause violence, unrest and even toppling of the government!

In fact, they could only be turned off and completely alienated by the TV1 screed which is available on YouTube – not only because it was so untrue but so unfair!

To them, Bersih 3.0 will forever remain a historic, momentous and even liberating experience where Malaysians regardless race, religion, region, class, age or gender came out together in peace and common humanity, out of a deep and abiding sense of patriotism and love for country, in support of the national cause for clean elections for a clean Malaysia.

All that they were armed were salt and water bottles, not to combat the police or topple the government, but to protect themselves in case of police tear gas and chemically-laced water cannon in order to send out the clear and unmistakable message that 54 years after Merdeka in 1957, Malaysians want clean elections and a clean Malaysia!

True, there were deplorable incidents of violence and brutality which marred the great Bersih 3.0 rally – but these deplorable incidents took place after 3 pm on April 28.

Before 3 pm, there was absolutely no tension in the air, as the hundreds of thousands who gathered in Kuala Lumpur were peaceful, in great harmony and carnival spirit, to celebrate the unprecedented democratic awakening, empowerment and unity of Malaysians.

This why Malaysians want an impartial, thorough and high-powered inquiry to find out what went wrong on April 28 and who marred the great Bersih 3.0 rally – whether it was caused by a handful of protestors or a small group of police personnel, who took the law into their own hands and started a riot against the peaceful public.

This is also why the independent advisory panel headed by former IGP Tun Hanif Omar to inquire into the Bersih 3.0 violence and brutality is completely unacceptable to the majority of thinking and decent Malaysians, not because Hanif was former IGP but for the simple reason that he had prejudged Bersih 3.0 with baseless and biased views after April 28.

If Najib and Hishammuddin want credibility and legitimacy for any findings of a Bersih 3.0 inquiry, they should heed the call which finds resonance in the country as well as in international circles for a completely new inquiry panel and not proceed with the panel headed by Hanif.

Form either a Royal Commission of Inquiry, a Suhakam inquiry or best of all, invite the United Nations rapporteurs, namely Frank La Rue on the promotion and the protection of the right to freedom and expression and Maina Kiai on the right to freedom of assembly and of association, to carry out independent investigations and present their report to the Malaysian people and government as well as the international community.

[Speech (2) at the DAP Sarawak forum on “Two-Party System – Our Hope” in Kuching on Saturday, 19th May 2012 at 9 pm]

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 5:25 pm

    AhCHEATkor 2 LKS: OK lah, 2 b fair 2 U n DAP, I now appoint ur guy TA Aziz 2 head d independent advisory panel, satisfied?

  2. #2 by lkt-56 on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 5:40 pm

    Rational Malaysia are looking at the whole debacle and shaking their heads at how absurd the administration can be in their response towards citizens’ legitimate call for fairness in the coming GE13. I just hope that they do not manage to remain in power by cheating. National healing can only take place when this group of irrational leaders are voted out of office. Against all odds let us resolutely say NO to another term for UMNO/BN.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 5:46 pm

    Of course they won’t call off demonization of Bersih 3.0. Why would they? They were just waiting for chance to do it. (It was all part of the political propaganda war). That’s why they were all ready. Since Bersih organizers agreed to barricades not to be breached, the police was restraint throughout (every where else in country) and even KL until their breach at 3 pm after which – once they received their excuse/pretext they unleashed tear gas, chemical laced water cannons and arrests everywhere – and not just the immediate vicinity of Dataran where breaches occurred. Some of you guys in PR, esp PKR just gave them the opportunity on silver platter to start this demonization campaign.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 5:59 pm

    Disproportionate police brutality unleashed – yes, sure, but whats new? Didn’t Bersih 1 and 2 show and prove it? But stupidity – this thinking that provoking this brutal response in Bersih 3 will galvanise another wave of public outrage and hammer the last nail in the coffin of BN’s electoral prospects in the next GE and not preempting that this could cut opposite way, that the opposite side could pre-empt and use the breach of barricades to turn the blame unto PR/Bersih as being First Cause of the Melee to justify the demonization – that’s the first! From 3rd party angle (for eg Economist) Bersih 2.0 was a plus (+) for Civil Society/Opposition but notwithstanding greater turnout, Bersih 3.0 produced a draw. Why? Because Bersih’s 3.0 moral cause has been weakened by charges of law/barricade breaking and ensuing (unavoidable) violence that the other side could seize and capitalise to start this demonisation campaign.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 6:31 pm

    From Bersih’s angle, it boils down to this. It knew the other side was afraid, insecure and in spite boast of Peaceful Assembly Act was neither believer nor advocate of freedom of speech or assembly. So when they produced a court order (that it didn’t believe in) it still had a choice of either, desist from marching or otherwise march either (a) to defy the court order and breach the cordon/barricades or (b) march and assemble in respect of the court order/barricade (which it didn’t agree). Bersih’s organizers took course (b). No one forced them. A deal is a deal even and especially if struck with the Devil. You keep to your bargain. If the other side breached its bargain (eg police struck way before 3 pm) that’s the other side’s problem. The world could judge that the other side had breached the bargain and broken the deal! You make sure the barricades/perimeters were not breached by supporters from your own side. Or else the moral cause is lost, the other side would seize it, use the pretext to unleash violence and blame it all to you cos you’re foolish enough to be painted 1st cause of breach of the Deal/Bargain!

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 8:08 pm

    It is interesting to note that ‘demonisation’ of Bersih is incoherent – its a series that is not coherent and does not bring home the point and yet the expressions gets more and more ridiculous that sets them back even as they play it out. Even Najib’s comments come late, one thing follow by another rather than coherent.

    What it really appears is a machinery losing its confidence and faith in the plan, strategy and leadership.

    The ‘butt’ and ‘burger’ protest, things against the Bar Council, attack on Ambiga-talk in Merlimau, etc. they appears to be pieces of UMNO taking things in their own hands because they think their leadership, plan and strategy is weakened and shaken

  7. #7 by lee wee tak_ on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 8:25 pm

    the demonisation is simply to divert attention to the real issue at hand – our election process is rife with problems, created deliberately to ensure BN win, even with 12% of votes. Gerrymandering, dodgy voters being registered, attempted revision of electoral laws which assist rather than curb fradulent…focus on the lousy state of SPR and the relevant legislation….the stupid ass dancing attempt to divert attention is an insult to our intelligence and culture.

  8. #8 by lkt-56 on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 9:28 pm

    The administration lacks intelligence. All it needs to do was to arrest those who breach the barricade and they would have won the propaganda war. Instead they over reacted and turned it into heavily armed police officers attacking unarmed citizens. Trying to overthrow the government with water, salt, yellow the-shirts? It only goes to show that we have a bunch of people up there who are not at all intelligent. Do not underestimate Malaysia. They are much more intelligent than you think. The middle ground will not buy your demonisation. They can see for themselves all evidences posted in the Internet.

  9. #9 by drngsc on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 9:57 pm

    Hi Kit,
    They are incapable of rational thinking and they are afraid of clean, free and fair election. I am sorry, but those of you who lead us ( and I feel for Ambiga and family ), must stand up to these demonisation. They wish you all to give up. PLEASE DO NOT. For a better Malaysia, please stand strong in the face of these demonisation.
    The time of reckoning is nigh. He has to call GE 13 sooner or later or find some excuse for a state of emergency.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming.If no significant electoral reform, first to Bersih 4.0, then to GE 13.

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

  10. #10 by yhsiew on Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 11:02 pm

    The government’s Bersih 3.0 demonisation campaign will only cause more anger among those who want a free and fair general election. The consequence will be that more people (esp the fence-sitters) will cast their votes to Pakatan. Malaysians are not easily fooled these days as they have access to alternate media to find out the truth.

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 12:47 am

    UmnoB/BN, DON’T STOP – pls continue 2 demonise BERSIH 3.0 n hv pasar malam, butt dance, burger sale in front of private houses; all WELL n GOOD 2 make decent rakyat ANGRY 2 want 2 kick UmnoB/BN out n VOTE 4 PR in GE13, UBAH, ABU

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 1:20 am

    A great news dat cheers rakyat: Nicol David won her fourth British Open title! Syabas!

  13. #13 by Jeffrey on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 6:22 am

    What’s exactly the nature of ‘demonization’ (in relation to Bersih 3.0) after 28th April? Loosely, it’s about Bersih having become a mass movement of over 250,000 supporters, skeptical of present electoral process and incited by a group ‘rogue’ protesters led by opposition politicians were prepared to take to the streets in defiance of law enforcement authorities and the law (court order) by deliberate breach of the barricades, with the original objective of supporting electoral reforms being thus transformed into a political agenda of taking Putrajaya by unconstitutional means of street protests at Merdeka Square, of the nature as had happened for eg in Tahrir Square, Egypt etc

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 6:46 am

    Prior to 3 pm police crackdown, the atmosphere on 28th April in downtown KL was vibrant, festive and peaceful (no violence) from either side. After the barricade breach at 3 pm, chaos, brutality and arrests reined. Basically the powers-that-be’s contention forming basis of “demonization” is that the violence at the end rebutted Bersih’s claims to peaceful assembly or at least that of its organizers in complicity with opposition politicians to advance their subterranean political agenda of inciting street confrontation to unconstitutionally take Putrajaya. To fight ‘demonization’ one has challenge its premises/bases of argument based on yardstick of rationality & proportion. This point -“how to combat police by salt and water bottles?- is a good start. The important thing is to focus on proportion: From the Bersih’s side: Is it rational/fair to use the acts of a small group (of say 0.01%) of 250,000 participants implicated in unlawful act of breaking the barriers to characterize the behaviour or impute/tarnish the motives of 99.99% of those not implicated or involved? From the authorities’ side: because of the acts of a small group (of say 0.01%) of 250,000 participants, is it fair/rational to rein tear gas, water laced water and arrests on the 99.99% who did not even know what happened?

  15. #15 by Jeffrey on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 6:58 am

    It is important to challenge demonization – not just because it’s a spin on the truth for political purposes. Demonization by spinmeisters, unchallenged, will broaden down to encourage overzealous supporters on the ground to resort to hate acts like stalking/pelting stones at Ambiga or setting up beef burger stalls and showing butts in front of her house etc which are not so subtle forms of intimidation harassment and violation of civil liberties of those whose politics one disapproves. Especially when acquiesced to by authorities, it signals the taking root of fascism.

  16. #16 by Bigjoe on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 7:37 am

    Somehow in the midst of ‘butt’, ‘burger’ and other protest, no one has pointed out ITS THE POLICE THAT SHUT DOWN THE CITY AND CAUSE THE LOSS OF BUSINESS, – not Bersih. In fact, if the police and DBKL had been cooperative, BERSIH WOULD HAVE ADDED TO BUSINESS…

  17. #17 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Monday, 21 May 2012 - 8:38 am

    The people had 3 bersih rallies so far. The last was attended by a massive 300,000 or so supporters (could well be much more but certainly not less). Apart from perkasa’s and umno youth’s failed scare attempts (i.e. parangs discovered amongst bundles of yellow t shirt in bersih 2.0 and fake explosives in bersih 3.0), really, nothing – YES, NOTHING – nasty happened!

    Oh the crowd was well behaved, baby!

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