By Ravinder Singh
Red is the official colour of Umno. The leader of the Red Shirts is the head of its Sungai Besar division. The use of Red Shirts by his band of rabble rousers is no coincidence but an obvious flaunting of this colour to impress the public that they are part and parcel of the ruling government and therefore are carrying out some duty of the government.
That they are carrying out some duty of the government is subtly implied by the deputy home minister, Nur Jazlan, who reasoned that having to use the relevant authorities to maintain public order during street rallies would be a waste of funds.
By this, he actually let the cat out of the bag, as he is implying that it is the right of any “patriotic” groups of people to take the law into their own hands to block roads and stop public rallies. This also explains a lot about the degree of the freedom of speech and actions accorded to the Red Shirts compared to others, particularly those from the opposite side.
A smoke screen was created by statements of cabinet ministers Nazri Aziz, Khairy Jamaluddin and Noh Omar, who said they do not approve of the samseng behaviour of the Red Shirts, and that the Red Shirts are not showing their “patriotism” in the name of Umno. Most of those who roughed up members of the media outside Giant supermarket in Kuala Selangor were not wearing Red Shirts. Mere co-incidence? But Jamal, their general, acknowledged that they were his Red Shirts.
Also present with the anti-Bersih group were Umno Youth exco member Armand Azha Abu Hanifah and Tanjong Karang Umno Youth deputy chief Shahrizal Shaari. If this is not Umno’s official support of the Red Shirts, why were these Unmo officials with the rabble rousers?
Jamal says there wouldn’t be a Red Shirts movement if not for Bersih, the coalition for free and fair elections.”Our intention is not violence, no matter what happens…”If there is no yellow (Bersih), there would be no red. So long as there is yellow, so long as there is Bersih, we’ll be around,” he said.
No rational person would be against the Red Shirts per say. What they are against is the gangster behaviour of the Red Shirts, the modus operandi of the Red Shirts to intimidate, harass, threaten, manhandle Bersih members to stop them educating people about the state of the country.
Jamal declares “Our intention is not violence, no matter what happens…” If that is true, then Jamal must use brains and not brawn to further Umno’s cause.
Fight reason with reason, not with eggs, pushing and shoving, shouting, kicking, blocking roads and claiming that to be their private territory near which Bersih people go at their own risk, and threatening that if one day stones are used instead of eggs, he musn’t be blamed as he cannot control the emotions of his followers.
And the police? Are they there to watch and see that the Red Shirts carry out their unlawful activities safely, and cover up for them if necessary? This was strongly implied by Jamal when he said the police in Teluk Intan had treated his Red Shirts like “anjing kurap”.
Was he tacitly given assurances of “police protection” which caused him to feel betrayed when a few of the Red Shirts were detained in Teluk Intan for kicking a Bersih rally participant off his motorcycle?
What Jamal should do is to have his own peaceful rallies a day or two after Bersih rallies, in the same places, to counter intelligently and with facts, what Bersih had told the people just a day or two earlier.
If Bersih is breaking any laws, it is the duty of the police to deal with them and not Jamal’s business to confront them physically, with eggs, and some day with stones.
Should stones be thrown one day, or parangs go flying (hope this was not from Jamal as he denies it), it is not the Red Shirts that would be to blame, but squarely the police for giving face to the Red Shirts. Give an inch and people take a yard. Why is the police giving face to the Red Shirts?
Beri muka, naik kepala.
Ravinder Singh is an FMT reader.