Commentary Politics

A memorable day at the illegal Bersih 4

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR –August 29, 2015: Yesterday was my first time at a rally, a Bersih rally to be precise…and let’s just say that it was everything except boring.

There were five designated assembly points where participants of the Bersih 4 rally gathered before they marched towards Dataran Merdeka.

These assembly points were in, Sogo KL, Pasar Seni, Dataran Maybank, Brickfields and Masjid Negara.

I went to the one at Sogo KL as assigned by my senior at The Mole.

The crowd in yellow arrived in force about noon and they later choked Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman as they marched to Dataran Merdeka.

In terms of participation, though PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli insisted that the Malay to non-Malay ratio was 50-50, but honestly, the unequal ethnic representation was actually glaring.

To call a spade a spade, the rally was dominated primarily by Chinese instead of Malays, which was unusual as it was the reverse of previous Bersih rallies as according to the reports.

Not that there was anything wrong with it, but this clearly shows that it was simply a wrong move by PKR and DAP to ditch Pas because if they had remained allies, the conservative rural Malay crowd would have not have shied away from participating in the rally.

I found that participants of the rally were mostly testing the patience of the authorities through couched nuances.

The sentiment floated by them was that the rakyat (people) will topple the government if the police was to arrest a single Bersih protesters.

Some spew seditious insults at especially Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datuk Seri Rosmah Mansor and  Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

They kept harping on the insulting remarks while reiterating the five core demands of the Bersih 4 rally; which are free and fair elections, a transparent government, the right to demonstrate, strengthening the parliamentary democracy system as well as saving the country’s economy.

No detailed explanations of the demands were mentioned during the rally though as it has pretty much escalated into a ‘Najib-Rosmah-and-Zahid’ bashing event.

Things went even more dodgy when PKR did what could only be termed as trying to hijack the rally, when its leaders called for the public to sign a petition to free their de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

Anwar is currently in prison for committing sodomy.

At a press conference before the march started, Rafizi admitted that he was not certain whether there was a discussion between his party and the rally’s organiser, the Coalition on Free and Fair Election (Bersih) to use the rally as a venue for such petition,

Nevertheless, he claimed that PKR was not trying to hijack the rally as “Anwar is the symbol of Bersih’s crusade.”

At the end of yesterday, I found it rather disappointing that the authorities, despite declaring the rally as illegal, did not act, especially to stop the protesters from making the insulting remarks and other blatant violation of the laws such as bringing their young children to the rally.

They even allowed the rally to go on despite announcing a deadline for the protesters to disperse at 5 pm.

It’s not that I am eager to see protesters getting beaten down, or being tasered by the police, but I think that the lack of stern enforcement of the law is sending the wrong message to the public.

From the looks of it, it’s as if the authorities are saying that it’s okay to collectively violate the laws and that there are no ramifications of such actions just because the public have the strength in numbers.

Finally, after attending Bersih 4, I also have to say that the dominantly Chinese crowd had sent a message that whatever that Najib is doing to win back their votes, including the micro-credit scheme and the moderation approach, well…its not working.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]