Bersih 4 not about Chinese political strength, say analysts

Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – September 3, 2015: Political analysts contacted by The Mole have advised those discussing the recent illegal Bersih 4.0 rally not to argue issues surrounding the event  on racial line.

Their concern was due to effort by certain quarters to portray the rally as an event where members of the Chinese community were flexing their political muscle.

Several media outlets have gone above and beyond to insinuate such a scenario by highlighting that there had been a disproportionate number of rally participants from the Chinese community as compared to other races.

Independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng when contacted said it was inane for the media to turn the Bersih rally into a racial fixation.

“Those who attended the rally were Malaysians and we are forgetting the real causes Bersih are championing by discussing about ‘race’.

“People were protesting on the issues that are affecting Malaysians as a whole and for the media to pick up on the racial sentiment instead, was silly,” he said.

Khoo added that racial sentiment should not be associated with the rally as it did not carry any discontentment against the interests of the majority Malay community.

He said the Malays contrariwise should be thankful that the Chinese were willing to do the ‘dirty work at the rally and be the scapegoat’.

“The Malays might also live far away that coming to the Dataran Merdeka would be inconvenient for them, whereas the Chinese who are living in the urban areas could easily come and support the rally,” he added.

Khoo however admitted he would be disappointed if the low Malay attendance was due to their returning support for  Umno and the Barisan Nasional’s government.

“I agree that Umno has helped the Malays throughout the years but we are worried about the slipping in the leadership quality.

“I am sure the Malays will not abandon Umno; they cannot afford to let BN crumble but we have to be more critical of our national issues,” he added.

On Sunday, it was reported that the 34-hour rally had been dominated by Chinese participants.

Activist Boon Kia Meng noted the racial trend as he said Bersih 4.0 saw only about 10 per cent Malay participation.

“Bersih 1 – Malay 80 per cent and Chinese 20 per cent, Bersih 2.0 – Malay 60 per cent and Chinese 40 per cent, Bersih 3.0 – Malay 50 per cent and Chinese 50 per cent. What happened?” he asked.

Merdeka Center had earlier conducted a survey between August 15 and 21 on Malaysians’ perception towards Bersih 4.0 and found that about 81 per cent of Chinese respondents supported the rally while 51 per cent Indian respondents did likewise.

In contrast to that, only 23 per cent of Malay respondents viewed the rally in positive light while 70 per cent of them did not approve of it.

However, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Dr Mazlan Ali told The Mole that the only reason the Malays were defectively represented at the rally was because of the absence of Pas supporters.

“The media propagated the idea that Chinese had dominated the rally to promote their interests but it is not the case. The smaller number in Malay participants was because Pas did not deploy its members to the Bersih 4.0 rally unlike in previous ones.

“Members of the Malay community such as from Kelantan and Terengganu where Pas is strong were absent and it affected the race’s representation at the rally,” he said.

Pas had decided not to support Bersih 4.0 following the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which was largely caused by the party’s bitter quarrel with DAP.

Mazlan was also of the opinion that the large number of Chinese participants at the rally was due to the recent gloomy economic outlook.

He said the Chinese generally would reward the government with their support for economic growth and fair treatment of the citizens, especially their community.

“They are more sensitive towards economic changes,” he added.

Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani agreed with Mazlan as he acknowledged Pas’ absence had resulted in the lack of Malays taking part in the rally.

He said unlike the previous rallies, Bersih 4.0 was missing the crowd from the Islamist party.

He also attributed the fact that many who could had joined the rally, especially Malays, had instead chose to go back to their hometown for  the long weekend break.



About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.