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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Barisan Nasional’s sledge-hammer reaction to the Bersih Rally on 9th July 2011

Prime Minister Najib will be the ultimate loser in the coming General Election and will be ousted just like his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Badawi

The hype and exaggeration of the consequences of the Bersih Rally – civil commotion, financial losses in the RM billions, the takeover of the government, the revival of communism, etc. – is another symptom of an administration under siege and devoid of any creative response to what is otherwise a non-issue.

By Matthias Chang

There are four main factions in UMNO, three of which are determined to prevent the PM's faction from gaining an overwhelming upper-hand and a repetition of "Pak Lah's political theatrics" – when the family-in-laws included ruled supreme. This is so typical of "Malay politics". Can you imagine the wannabes waiting for 15 years or more to have a bite at the political cherry?

The era of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was an exception and only because he was a visionary and a pragmatic leader, and an act that is hard to follow. The trend for all future leaders will assuredly be one term, as there are just too many in the queue to be the next prime minister.

The Prime Minister is a seasoned politician, adept at surviving the back-stabbing and double-dealings inherent in all political power-grabs. So why is he reacting in such a high-handed manner to the Bersih challenge?

A heavy-handed reaction – threats of incarceration under the Internal Security Act, threats of unleashing sectarian / racial violence by the likes of Perkasa, the unnecessary posturing by UMNO Youth and its irrelevant leader, Khairy (off to join the Gaza Flotilla to get some brownie points where he has no credibility in advancing the just struggles of the Palestinians), the raid of Bersih's office and the confiscation of its materials etc., but no police action against UMNO Youth's disorderly conduct outside PKR's headquarters even when they threatened to burn down the building – indicates the administration's one track mentality in solving problems, not that the Bersih Rally is a problem.

The hype and exaggeration of the consequences of the Bersih Rally – civil commotion, financial losses in the RM billions, the takeover of the government, the revival of communism, etc. – is another symptom of an administration under siege and devoid of any creative response to what is otherwise a non-issue.

To declare that it is a crime and or illegal to wear any clothing in yellow bearing the logo "Bersih" is sheer stupidity. And the Home Minister is a lawyer by training! If such clampdown is to demonstrate the power of UMNO and nothing else, then the year long campaign that we are "1Malaysia" rings hollow and that the Barisan Nasional government has no faith in its policies especially its "Economic Transformation Programme" (ETP), the political crown jewel of Najib's administration.

If Barisan Nasional needs brute force to cow the people to vote for it, as opposed to using rational arguments and sound policies, it will be the end of the Barisan Nasional. The Barisan Nasional would be giving the Opposition a walk over in the next General Election.

The Election Commission is an independent agency. This is the mantra that the BN government never ceases to affirm.

Everyone is for a free and fair election.

The 2008 General Election is the best evidence that elections were conducted fairly, as the Opposition took over five state governments and reduced the BN two-thirds majority in Parliament, a historic achievement by the Opposition Coalition.

Bersih has assured the nation that the rally would be peaceful and its intention is to deliver a memorandum for a fair and clean election to the King.

We shall hold them to their word and promise.

How long would the Bersih Rally be, in the absence of any police action? At the most, one and half hours, and thereafter, they would have to disperse, again peacefully. End of the story. Nothing happens, no news worthy of a headline in the front page of the local mainstream media or for that matter the foreign media.

The police can agree to a pre-designated route to avoid creating traffic jams and unnecessary inconvenience to the public.

There is no need for the deployment of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) or the military. What is needed is traffic police to assist the organizers.

This is all that is required.

Any leader associated with the Bersih Rally would lose credibility if they allow the rally to turn ugly or violent. In those circumstances, the security forces would have every justification to take stern action and they can be deployed quickly.

Let us not make a mountain out of a mole-hill!

My advice to the Prime Minister is simple. Be at the gate of the Agong's palace to stand in solidarity with the participants and show support for their civic-mindedness and assure all those peaceful participants that every effort will be made to ensure a fair and clean election as was the case in 2008 and all previous elections.

Why is there a need for Perkasa to have a counter-rally, when it is not even part of the Barisan Nasional? Whether BN likes it or not, Perkasa is perceived as being thuggish and provocative. It may have a role in serving a Malay agenda (rallying Malays to vote for UMNO), but it will not be able to deliver the Malay votes. It is a sad reflection of UMNO that it needs Perkasa, an external force to rally Malay voters and when its leader is not even a member of UMNO, but an "independent" Member of Parliament. This is really pathetic!

Why must UMNO Youth behave in a manner that is perceived as racial and repugnant?

Perkasa undermines the Barisan Nasional. It cannot deliver on its own merits and has no mass following, if UMNO members do not join its ranks.

I challenge Perkasa to deliver 50,000 members to march peacefully to the Agong's palace to assure the entire nation that they too are for fair and clean elections, not on the 9th July 2011 but on a separate occasion so that we can see for ourselves the true strength of Perkasa and whether it genuinely reflects the aspirations of the Malay community and the Barisan Nasional.

If Barisan Nasional wants to commit suicide and lose the next General Election, then follow Perkasa's sectarian bravado and Khairy's infantile opportunism.

If Barisan Nasional insists on adopting the sledge hammer approach to the Bersih Rally, they will lose the next election. The blowback will be intense and unforgiving. And if Najib is naïve and foolish enough to declare an emergency and launch another Operation Lalang, the Chinese and Indian voters will abandon Barisan Nasional in droves and whatever efforts thus far to win back their allegiance will go up in smoke. This is a given.

Remember also that as a Muslim country, we are also a target of the neo-cons' agenda. Those outside forces who are hell bent to destabilize Muslim countries are waiting for an excuse to subvert Malaysia.

The Bersih Rally is a non-issue and can be diffused quietly and without any fanfare.

I trust common sense will prevail.

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