A Third Force Has Emerged!

Posted on May 8, 2012

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An article by Stephen Ng, republished here with his permission.

Talking about the third force, Bersih is it!

Comprising mainly citizens from all walks of life, Bersih supporters are interested in seeing a clean and fair election. They have witnessed some 50 years of rule under Barisan Nasional, where corruption, abuse of power, sex scandals, police brutality, political intimidation, cronyism and nepotism, financial scandals in the billions of Ringgit, money politics, manipulation of the electoral process and dictatorial rule has taken place.

For that simple reason, many of us who would otherwise not participate in any street demonstrations find ourselves going down to the Dataran Merdeka to push for reforms. I found it absurd to even think that an elected government would choose to fight the people over a patch of green grass.

We are united

It makes no difference to me whether Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali or Chegubard are now being accused of asking the rakyat to bulldoze the metal gates. For me, it is the eight demands of Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee that have to be heeded by Najib and his entire BN regime.

Till today, the premier Najib Razak has refused to listen to the voice of the people. His behaviours typify the arrogance of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who used harliner’s approach against the people.

Times have changed. The people of Malaysia have risen up to the occasion. The more you try to quash them, the bigger the section of the community will come out in protest. I can only imagine the enormity of Bersih 4.0 when the clarion call is out. I, for one, will go for Bersih 4.0 because of how the Najib administration has treated the rakyat. I may sound like an old record, but let me repeat this without a doubt: Any government that continues to fight the people will not last very long.

The Malaysian spring is already in the air. If Najib continues to take the same stance, the entire BN government will crumble. They should by now learn the lesson from Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, and remind themselves, that ‘whoever wins makes no difference, as long as the electoral process is fair.’ This is, after all, what many of us have demanded for. S. Ambiga and the steering committee of Bersih have stated this again and again.

I wish to remind all Bersih people of two wise sayings: “United we stand, divided we fall” and “Divide-and-Rule”. Umno and its propagandists and Umno war strategists will use propaganda to divide the Bersih people against the politicians, and end up sabotaging the noble causes of Bersih. Therefore, at this crucial hour, we should all stand united.

If anything, Bersih is the Third Force. We have to stand by any political parties that support our cause to demand for a free and fair election. If BN continues to defy the wishes of the people to clean up the electoral roll and re-delineate the constituencies, no fair and clean election can be carried out. Bersih supporters, as the Third Force, should now rally behind the parties that are at a disadvantage now, to fight the BN during the coming General Election.

Every Bersih participant should now go and seek out some form of training about being polling agents and counting agents, in order to ensure a clean and fair election. There are a number of groups conducting such training such as Tindak Malaysia, Komas and Undilah Malaysia.

No Justification

As I look back the scores of video clips, I do not see any justification for police brutality and the arrest of 512 Bersih protestors. Not discounting the fact that there were indeed agent provocateurs and even Special Branch personnel wearing Bersih t-shirts, I think Najib’s administration has failed to deal with harmless civilian protestors.

Let me reiterate some points that may not have been covered by others. First, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall mayor, Ahmad Fuad had no justifiable reasons not to grant Ambiga and her team to organise the sit-in protest at Dataran Merdeka. After all, how much of a security threat could it be if he had allowed people to just sit and protest? We have seen from protest held elsewhere was done peacefully, when there was no political interference. Fuad should realise that he was merely a caretaker of the Merdeka Square, synonymous to the maintenance office in an apartment block.

Next, the police obtained a court order. This has to be challenged in court. On what grounds did the magistrate issue the court order? The Merdeka Square had not been gazetted as an “out of bound” venue for public protest. Despite having a place of worship nearby, the Merdeka Square is a public place, which belongs to the rakyat. Besides, if the Peaceful Assembly Act goes against the spirit of the Constitution, which promises the citizens of this country the right to protest, it should be challenged in court.

Looking at the few minutes before the cordon was breached, several videos have emerged. That the Opposition had hijacked the Bersih demonstration is BN’s version of the story, but the fact is everyone who went for Bersih is seen as anti-government. We are together. We are united against a wicked regime that continues to ignore the rakyat’s plea for  clean and fair election, which has turned into demands. There is no doubt about it. Why does BN strategists have to pinpoint the blame on Anwar, Azmin and Chegubard, when it could have been some agent provocateurs who had created the fraca?

In the first place, why was this section of the cordon without barbed wires? Why were there only metal gates? Were there even the police cordon tapes, which warn people not to breach the police cordon? If not, then the people had not breached the police cordon, but City Hall’s barricades; therefore, they should not have been treated in the same manner as though they have breached the police cordon. Someone can show us that there were indeed police cordon there, but it doesn’t justify the police brutality that we saw of Saturday’s event. Lawyers, please help: I guess the police cordon by definition of the law and the court order was the row of policemen who stood guard near the cordon.

The policemen should have stood by their own cordon, when the protestors entered through the City Hall gates. Instead, they backed off to allow the protestors to proceed further into the Dataran Merdeka. Most people did not even go past the legal boundaries of Dataran Merdeka, because they were already being tear gassed and hit with chemical-laced water cannon. Now that the police want to charge the protestors for entering the off-limits boundaries defined by the court order, the burden of proof is on them to prove who entered into Dataran Merdeka and who did not. As far as I am concerned, there was no act of aggression, merely in self-defence.

The moment the protestors went in, what did they do? Were there any premeditated acts of violence against the police? What was on their minds? I can tell you straight to the face: all that they wanted to do was to move to the patch of green grass, to sit in and protest. Is there anything criminal about that?  Even if it was breaching a court order, did it deserve what we saw on Saturday?

I noticed from one of the video clips that there were several policemen walking in their normal pace, instead of running for their lives. What does that tell you? My answer: the people were non-violent. They were unarmed. No weapon, Molotov or even sharp objects were in fact used against the FRU truck, except plastic mineral water bottles and a police traffic cone. How violent could it get? In fact, the people who threw the plastic bottles doing it out of anger after they were attacked. It was for two reasons: self-defence and to protect a fellow comrade who was lying down on the road.  There is a saying, “WHEN ATTACKED, you either fight back or take to flight.” The key words are, “WHEN ATTACKED.”

The crowd had generally backed off when they were tear-gassed. They were passive, non-aggressive, and an intimidated lot. From the video, I could see that the FRU truck stopped at a certain point and reversed. This was as far as they were allowed by the court order to lash out at the people.

But what made the FRU and the boys in blue go out of the cordon to arrest people wearing Yellow Bersih t-shirts, even though many of them were having dinner at some nearby restaurants? Who gave them the order to arrest more Bersih supporters? On what ground were these people arrested? Did all of the 512 protestors breach the cordon or committed acts of violence as claimed by the police?

The Black Spot on Najib’s Shirt

Instead, what we see is police brutality all over the places. People were not being treated as civilians; instead, they were being arrested and bashed up like criminals. Even the press people were treated with similar brutality.

I like to call 428 a day when our BN government treated us like villains. This is a black spot on Najib’s yellow shirt. As much as he boasted that he wants a clean and fair election, the stain caused by his actions, or lack of, will remain with him for life. This is a black day in the history of this nation.

I am afraid that the ghost of May 13 which his predecessor from Kerala, India had created no longer haunts the people. Instead of viewing the 428 incident as deterrence for a bigger Bersih demonstration, many people are already contemplating for Bersih 4.0. It’s written all over on everyone’s face that day.

A friend, who sent me an sms on that fateful Saturday afternoon, is absolutely right in his observations and I like to end here with his words: “Crowd was a lovely 1Malaysia (cynical) and it was peaceful with a little bit political sloganeering but all rather peaceful. It was very semangat until the stupid action of firing tear gases. So instead of leaving satisfied the tear gas just got many ppl angry. Hidup rakyat!”

Najib, Bersih is what the third force is all about. You either listen to Bersih’s demands, or the third force will work against you and the entire BN government.

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