Sunday, July 3, 2011


Last Thursday at a seminar on "Content Monitoring 2011", the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) directed all mainstream media (MSM) not to give prominence to reports on Bersih and pro-Bersih groups. They were also told to refer to the Bersih 2.0 rally as an "illegal rally". To ensure their directives were adhered to, all radio and TV broadcasters were required to submit a daily report providing details of their coverage on the rally.
(Front page of The Star on Saturday). How deceptive! While the police are carrying out a nationwide crackdown on pro-Bersih 2.0 gatherings and arresting the organizers, the MSM would have us believe that everything is hunky-dory in the country.
Proof that the MSM were abiding by MCMC's orders came the very next day. After two weeks of the Bersih 2.0 rally hogging the front pages, the Saturday papers made scant mention of the rally or of the nationwide arrests that are continuing on a daily basis. Instead, there was increased coverage on anti-Bersih rallies and on government warnings against supporting the July 9 rally.
Anti-opposition rallies are not only allowed, but also highlighted in the MSM.
Bersih has been declared illegal by the Home Minister. The reason? The ROS says Bersih has contravened the Societies Act 1966. But why should Bersih seek registration when it is only a coalition of 60+ NGOs that are already registered? And would ROS accept Bersih's application if it were to apply? I think not.
Sales of Bersih 2.0 tees have skyrocketed since the ban. They have now become a collector's item.
Bersih's yellow T-shirt has also been declared illegal by the Home Minister. Isn't that an infringement on our civil rights to wear what we please? What if people choose to wear yellow T-shirts that say 'We want CLEAN and FAIR elections' or 'We reject DIRTY elections'? Would they be arrested too?

Why is the government not going after Perkasa and Umno Youth? Their rallies to be held on the same day as Bersih 2.0 have also been declared illegal by the Home Ministry. 
How come the government has not clamped down hard on Perkasa and Umno Youth as it has with Bersih? After all, the Home Ministry has also declared Perkasa's "Gerak Aman" rally illegal. There is no ban on their supporters' red T-shirts. Why this bias? Bersih has listed their eight demands as the reason for their 9 July rally. Perkasa's only motive for their rally is to protest against Bersih's rally. Can we infer from this that Perkasa opposes clean elections?
Bersih rally in 2007. (Photo: The Sun)
Why is the government so terribly afraid of a rally that hasn't even taken place that it's doing everything it can to prevent it from happening?  If the Bersih rally in 2007 is anything to go by, the government is prepared to bring out the FRU in full force with their anti-riot armoury of truncheons, tear-gas and water cannons. All this show of might to intimidate unarmed citizens. 
You can be arrested for wearing a plain yellow T-shirt, and for distributing miniature national flags!
Instead of responding to each of Bersih's eight demands, the government is only concerned about the demands related to the coming elections. It uses the same old argument to refute these demands, which is, if elections were not clean, how could the opposition have won five states in 2008? Well, if the elections were truly clean, who knows perhaps the opposition could have won more seats and formed the government? Take the recent Sarawak elections as an example. Evidence of election fraud and malpractices are on YouTube and in the new media for the world to see.

The government has yet to address Bersih's other demands. For instance, what has it to say with regards to Bersih's demand to stop corruption and strengthen public institutions? As for the demand for a free and fair media, we know that the media has already been given orders not to show any TV news footage or print coverage of police using violence on protestors on 9 July. "Instead the news should highlight the difficulties and inconvenience caused by the rally to the people, as well as scenes of protesters heckling, public property being vandalised and massive traffic congestion." (Source: Malaysia Chronicle)

What started off as a rally for clean elections has now morphed into a civil rights movement that is gaining momentum. The harder the crackdown, the louder the cry for democratic reforms. It is not the rakyat but the government and their use of strong-arm tactics that is giving the country a negative image.

Should the government succeed in stopping the rally on 9 July through intimidation and suppression, the people still have the power of the vote. Unless of course, the coming elections are rigged. Which is precisely why Bersih is calling for clean and fair elections in the first place.

Come next Saturday 9 July, the city and other major towns will be swathed in a sea of yellow - the new colour of courage.

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