Wednesday, 25 April 2012

No choice but to go forward with Bersih3.0

This Saturday, in the major towns in the country, as well as at an anticipated 70 places around the world, Malaysians will be sitting down to participate in Bersih3.0. Duduk Bantah. The sitdowns will be a collective show of support for Bersih which is trying to get the federal government to make reforms to the election system. There is no choice for right-thinking Malaysians to do but support Bersih if we want the country to progress towards a matured democracy.  

Duduk Bantah comes after the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms had failed to introduce meaningful reforms to the election system. After the Bersih2.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur last July, during which the high-handed federal government reacted by unleashing the Police to clamp down on the participants through violent means, the Parliamentary Select Committee was formed to look into Bersih's original eight demands: clean up the electoral roll, reform postal voting, the use of indelible ink, free access to the media, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, strengthen the public institutions, stop corruption and put an end to dirty politics.

However, little was achieved when the Parliamentary Select Committee, comprising mainly Barisan Nasional parliamentarians, refused to accept that all the eight demands were worthy of adoption. A minority report of dissenting opinion from Pakatan Rakyat members of the committee was rejected and not even considered for mention in the committee's final report to Parliament.

Disappointed, Bersih came out to say that a third rally would be organised this Saturday. This time, it won't be a walk to the Stadium Merdeka. Rather, there will be a sitdown event at the Dataran Merdeka. Throughout the country, there will be other smaller sitdown events in the main towns.

At first I was rather surprised when the Home Minister said that there was nothing wrong with Bersih 3.0. Unlike Bersih2.0, Bersih3.0 would not be declared illegal. On the surface, it looked like the government had learnt its lesson. Anyway, that was what it looked like initially. There's a new twist. The federal government's strategy is now to use the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur to prevent Bersih3.0 from happening. Very much like a sub-contracted job. Of course, we can still depend on the very dependable Police in Kuala Lumpur to say no too, contrary to the Home Minister's initial postulations.That's where we are presently: a stalemate between the DBKL authorities and the people.

By thr way, I have already asked a friend to buy me a Bersih3.0 T-shirt. It'll come in very handy on any Saturday. If I'm in Kuala Lumpur, I would join my fellow Malaysians to get to the Dataran Merdeka. As I'm in Penang, I should instead be making my way instead to the Speaker's Square at the Esplanade. Unfortunately, I'm due to travel to Kuala Terengganu this weekend and will be leaving Bukit Mertajam at about 5a.m. on Saturday in order to arrive there by two or three o'clock in the afternoon. My professional duties to fulfil and I'm told that it takes eight to nine hours to get there.

So while I'm unable to be at the Dataran Merdeka or the Esplanade in person, my thoughts will still go out to my fellow Malaysians who shall be there. By all accounts these should be peaceful sitdown rallies. Nevertheless, don't ever discount that those mamak goons will not turn up to disrupt the occasion. I will be very surprised if these good-for-nothing-except-receiving-handouts hooligans are absent.

Please take care....