Random Links 196 (Bersih Malaysia “After One Week” Edition)

Let’s see what’s up after seven days …

King: No royal support for Bersih rally

I heard disappointments when this news came out.

16/11: What the eye does not see

But apparently, there’s more than meets the eye. This makes the story even more interesting …

Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku

Haris makes sure he’s heard loud and clear:

“Now is the time for solidarity between all in civil society who desire change for the better in this country with a monarch who, until now, has shown a willingness to act in our interest.

I will not accept that my monarch has discarded our petition and our memorandum until I hear and see His Majesty do so with my own eyes and ears.”

Spinmeisters In Istana Negara?

Bob chips in a little commentary … and then throws in a challenge.

“There’s much more that can be said, but as one commentor put it succinctly in my previous post, we need to get the message to the ground .. in the heartland of the people, rather than just within the privileged arena of cyberspace and the forum circuit of us urbanites.

Until then, the likes of Nazri, Badruddin and Zam will continue to haunt our national consciousness with their arrogance and flippant attitudes towards the common people.”

Observing the Bersih rally

A Lawyer’s observations …

(a) The crowd was peaceful. I did not see any untoward disturbances, unruly or violent behaviour on the part of the participants.

(b) There were other people around, who happened to be at the location, and who were not there to take part in the march.

(c) The only reason I could see for the use of water canons and tear gas was to prevent a peaceful gathering, and not because its participants had caused any chaos, riot or violence. The crowd was orderly, but became (naturally) less so when the police employed water canons and tear gas.

(d) The use of water canons and tear gas had also affected bystanders and persons present who were not part of the rally.
(e) The crowd, when running away from the tear gas and chemically laced water, was amazingly relatively unchaotic under the circumstances. I did not see any pushing or shoving, even when the participants were running for cover.

(f) I did not personally witness any beatings perpetrated by the police, although I heard accounts of the same. One journalist ran to where I was standing, and told me that he had been assaulted by the police. His right eye was swollen. “

and some conclusions …

(1) The participants of the Bersih rally on Nov 10 were disciplined. They evidently came with the desire for a peaceful assembly in order to publicly vocalise and display their views, and thereafter to leave peacefully.

(2) As far as I am aware, the gathering at Istana Negara was incident free, compared with that at Masjid Jamek. I attribute this important difference to the differences in approach adopted at the two places. At Istana Negara, the police had allowed the gathering to proceed peacefully, while keeping watch on any unruliness. It did proceed peacefully, and ended no longer than was necessary (without incident). In contrast, the police at Masjid Jamek tried to forcibly deny the crowd’s desire to proceed with a peaceful assembly, which led to unnecessary violence, prolonged the duration of the assembly, and reduced its orderliness.

(3) If, for example, the police had allowed the gathering to take place at Dataran, there would have been far less inconvenience to the traffic and the activities in the areas surrounding Dataran, than what was caused that afternoon by the denial of that opportunity.

(4) What transpired on Nov 10 clearly showed that peaceful assemblies are an easily achievable reality in Malaysia, when the police refrain from thwarting the people’s legitimate desire to exercise their basic human and constitutional rights of the freedom of assembly and expression. The reasons why the authorities have almost always disallowed public rallies, demonstrations and marches (that are not sanctioned by the government or are not in line with its views) appear to lie not with any concerns for order and security, but elsewhere.

(5) Actions taken by the police (following the wishes of the authorities) to prevent public assemblies often create much more inconvenience and ill will for the public, than would such peaceful assemblies, if permitted and properly facilitated instead. Public order and security will be better served if the police channel their energy to helping to maintain peace and order during public assemblies, rather than to employing harsh measures to stop them from happening.

(6) Participants of public assemblies, on their part, must at all times maintain a high level of discipline, so that such events may be peacefully and successfully carried out. “

“No matter the regime’s physical power, in the end they can’t stop the people”

Great insight from our neighbouring country ….

“I am really not fond of that expression,” she replied rather sternly. “People have been on the streets. That’s not a stalemate. Ethnic people, like the Karen, are fighting back. That’s not a stalemate. The defiance is there in people’s lives, day after day. You know, even when things seem still on the surface, there’s always movement underneath. It’s like a frozen lake; and beneath our lake, we are progressing, bit by bit.”

wonderful application for our own …

“… 10 November in Malaysia was not a stalemate. Malaysians have conquered their fear. There is a sense of defiance – witnessed when tens of thousands of good-natured, peaceful, justice-loving Malaysians waved defiantly at helicopters hovering overhead and at sullen-faced riot police seated in red trucks passing menacingly by. When they were confronted by a phalanx of riot police, they stood their ground and refused to blink.

Instead, it is the oligarchic political elites who now fear the people on the move, who tremble in anticipation of their next move.

Yes, we are progressing, bit by bit.”

The Time for Parochial Interest is Over

Let’s hear a voice from a member of the steering committee of BERSIH.

Rehabilitation for whom?

Farish Noor sings this song well …

“So what does the future hold for Malaysian society and where will the events of 10th November lead us? It is clear that the Bersih demonstration had managed to do the one thing that the leaders of the Barisan Nasional dread above all: to bring together Malaysians from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds on one neutral issue that unites rather than divides their interests. The fact that the Islamists of PAS and the secular leftists of DAP could come together along with the activists of PKR and the NGOs suggests that the civic spirit of Malaysians is not quite dead, despite all attempts to squash any attempt at multi-racial and cross-communal political activism in the country.

Unable and unwilling to accept the new realities on the ground the political elite of Malaysia has resorted to the same worn out clichés and the call to rehabilitate the younger Malaysians who were present at the demonstration reveals the extent to which this ruling elite is so thoroughly bankrupt of ideas. No, it is not the younger Malaysians who are in need of rehabilitation- In fact the activist in me would say that activism and civic responsibility should begin from our school days and that every young citizen should be made aware of her and his rights and responsibilities as early as possible, as a rite of civic membership.

If anyone is in need of rehabilitation, it is the politicians and ruling elite of Malaysia themselves, who should learn that this diverse and plural society of ours happens to be a complex nation undergoing a slow democratic transformation and that the future of Malaysian politics should reflect this multicultural diversity. …”

My Malaysia

November 10 Berish Rally should be entered as the biggest Gotong Royong in the Malaysian Book of Records ..

“The biggest gotong-royong I’ve every been for happened on November 10, 2007. I’ve never seen such a multiracial crowd in Malaysia so united and set on cleaning up the country. 40,000 over people marched the streets of Kuala Lumpur to send a memo to the King, and a message to the country that “We want cleaner elections”.

As a country that is boasting 50 years of independence, we are unable to deal with very basic issues of governance. We have an adulterated democracy where freedom is not fairly controlled. We honour the federal constitution, but wrestle with our confidence in the judiciary. We showcase our multicultural society to the world while racism is practiced through favoritism, legally. We encourage the rakyat to be truthful, but offer half truths through the media.

We’ve built tall towers. Torn down squatters. Sent someone into space for being smart. Some into detention for being wise. Brought the FBI to solve the murder of a little girl. And our police force on trial for the unsolved murder of a Mongolian girl.

The economy dominated by one race. Allowances given to another. Gangsterism and rubber trees to the other.

The ones who suffer transcend race, religion and creed. They are the hungry, the homeless, the fatherless, the disabled, the foreigners, the oppressed.

My Malaysia is still my home. Though not perfect, I can’t see myself living in any other place. I have the option to gripe and be idealistic or pick my broomstick and get realistic. We have to talk less, act more. Grounded in Word, Active in Deed.”

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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