Staying Focused and United

Posted on May 7, 2012



Dear fellow Bersihans,

I am writing to urge all of us to stay focused and united. Please do not get sidetracked from the true reasons why we came out on 28/4, and that is, to demand for a reform of our country’s electoral system and to clean up the electoral rolls before the next GE. The enemy of these demands are doing their level best to sidetrack us with a myriad of non-issues. They are also working to divide us while painting to the rest of our countrymen that we are just a bunch of hooligans. Stay focused on the demands of Bersih 3.0 and stays united because we are making a difference.


It is most unfortunate that the main event in KL took an ugly turn when most of us had hoped for a chance for a peaceful rally. I do not wish to join in the blame game for there is enough players on the field and investigation is on-going. When the full extent of the violence became clearer, my first thought was how foolish can this government be? Haven’t they learnt from Bersih 2.0 in July last year that it is totally counter-productive to their own cause to use violence against their own citizenry? Well, I am realising that they are not foolish and yes, they have learnt from the last Bersih 2.0.

I am beginning to believe that they orchestrated much of what happened before, on and after 28/4. The build-up to 28/4 was like a cat and mouse game, different signals were sent. The police had no problem with the rallies across the country and the Home Minister said that Bersih 3.0 was not a security threat as there was no traction for the movement. He even gave the assurance that the presence of police would be only to assist the protesters and maintain order. But the bad guy this time was DBKL and city councils in participating towns and cities. We need to get permissions to use public spaces. So, the public image of the police looked good this time round compared to Bersih 2.0. They are seen as professional and reasonable.


But the same cannot be said of the organiser of the protest. Isn’t it reasonable that they get permission from the owner (for that is how they view Datuk Bandars) before we use his property? And if the owner said “No”, shouldn’t we just accept it especially if he offered us an alternative? The Merdeka Stadium and Bukit Jalil Stadium were offered just 3 days before the event. As Ambiga asked rhetorically, “Couldn’t they have offered it much earlier when Bersih 3.0 was first announced on April 4th?” Is there any sincerity in their proposal? I believe there is none. It is all just a public relation exercise to paint the organisers of Bersih 3.0 in a negative light as unreasonable and stubborn people because just 3 days before the rally, the Home Minister who has been saying that the rally does not pose a security threat, did a U-turn and said, “We have already compromised and offered alternative venues to them… but if they choose to be stubborn, it will be up to the police to take the necessary action,” he said. So, in the eyes of the general public, Ambiga and her team are just stubborn and unreasonable. That was their goal all along, I believe.


In the aftermath of the violence on 28/4, they used all their media machineries to highlight the violence and the headlines screamed the following day – “What a mess!!”, “Najib: Bersih broke promise to gather peacefully”, etc. Photos after photos of violent “protesters” were splashed on the frontpages. NGOs after NGOs and angry “traders” are given press coverage to air their anger at Ambiga and the opposition. The government cared not about the likes of you and I who have access to the alternative media and social networks because they know that the majority still believes what they and their propaganda machineries churns out. What an orchestration!


All these shifting of blame, focus on the violence, the negative portrayal of Bersih leaders and opposition politicians, the ridiculous crowd figures given, the “negative” impact of the rally on business, are just smoke-screens. They are meant to divert the people’s attention away from the real issue which is the 8 demands of Bersih 3.0 and the additional 3. These are the reasons why the hundreds of thousand of Malaysians from 11 cities here and over 80 cities around the world came out for. Our demands are being deliberately drowned out by the lies, distortion and deception. The sacrifice of the patriotic people who came out is being rubbished.


But most insidious of all is the attempt to divide us, the Bersihans. A common accusation, almost like a mantra, is that Bersih has been hijacked by the opposition who only wants to seek their personal selfish advancement. Those of us who like to think of ourselves as non-partisan may feel aggrieved that many opposition leaders seems to take the lead on the day of the rally itself.

My question is this – What is wrong with opposition politicians supporting Bersih when we have been saying that all Malaysians who want to see free and fair elections should support us? It is obvious why the opposition politicians should feel strongly about this issue. They are the ones who stand to lose most in unfair and dirty elections. It is like saying non-smokers should not campaign against smoking because they have personal selfish interest. And to the issue of whether they should lead, I say, many of them are natural leaders and as long as they stick to the agenda of Bersih and come out as Malaysians, why shouldn’t they lead?  This is just my humble opinion.

Another tact they are using to divide us is to highlight dissenting voices like that of DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim. In my view, it is not only natural but also healthy that there are dissenting voices in any democratic institution. But we do need to know when to speak up and when not to. The unity of the movement is more important than our own opinions, especially in the public arena. Just know that our foes are eager to exacerbate the cracks.

Coming to the bit of news that precipitate this open letter is the report in The Malaysian Insider titled “Anti-Pakatan dissent spreads online to fight ‘hijack’ of Bersih” that an anti-PR “movement” demanding Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan stop the polls watchdog from being “hijacked” by the opposition pact. It has a one-page website where those who agree with its demand can send an e-mail directly to Ambiga. Personally, I have my doubts as to whether these are truly Bersih supporters as claimed. If they are then why are they not anti the people who are committing election frauds, corrupt and playing dirty politics? I just find their initiative “unusual”. But again, the disappointed and angry Bersihans among us may be seduced into supporting this “movement”. But be warned, it can only divide us and weaken our resolve and numbers. We should not have anything to do with such schemes.

No doubt there will be more non-issues thrown out to confuse the public and us but let us stay alert. Stays focused and keep on hammering home our demands for a free, fair and clean election, where we have influence. Let us stay united in our struggle until we see all our demands met.

Hidup Bersih!

Thomas Fann

Posted in: Bersih, Thomas Fann