This Saturday was supposed to see only the yellow-shirts of the Bersih rally at Dataran Merdeka, but the red-shirts want to stop them by rallying as well.
Bersih has a cause, which is to draw public attention to the need for systemic reform to save Malaysia’s democracy, including clean elections, clean government, upholding the right to dissent. What is the red-shirts’ cause?
On the side, the rally dubbed Bersih 5 is urging Najib Abdul Razak to step down as prime minister in order to allow for independent investigations into the corruption scandal surrounding him. It looks obvious that the red-shirts are against that.
Their leader, Jamal Md Yunos, is, after all, the chief of the Sungai Besar Umno division, and Umno information chief Annuar Musa has said that the party’s members can join the red-shirts rally.
Bersih has time and again reminded its supporters that their rally must be peaceful, but Jamal has more than once talked of “blood”.
Three weeks ago, he said he would do anything, even “bathe in blood”, to stop Bersih 5. Last Sunday, after getting punched in the nose during a scuffle between the police and his Red Shirts at a shopping mall, he threatened that “blood will be paid in blood”.
Is he for real?
Obviously, the inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar doesn’t think so. He has said, “Jamal has been making a lot of statements, but nothing comes of them.”
Is Jamal a bully whose bark is worse than his bite? Will nothing come out of the avowed confrontation between the yellows and the reds this Saturday? Will Jamal be able to even gather a big enough crowd to match the expected Bersih numbers?
This is where it will matter very much for Bersih supporters to come forward on Saturday to overwhelm the Reds in numbers. And how can they not come forward when they will be supporting the much nobler cause? How can they not stand up to a bully that is trying to muffle Bersih’s messages calling for reform? How can they buckle under the threats of violence that the bully spouts?
Besides, I don’t think there will be violence. I don’t think Saturday will see a bloodbath.
The police will be monitoring the situation closely. That’s because it is most unlikely that Najib will allow violence to break out after he has secured lots of spoils from China that could benefit fellow Umnoputras. The East Coast Rail Link alone is going to cost RM55 billion. Imagine how much benefit the cronies are going to get from it. You can bet the red-shirts are with Najib. They will not rock his boat.
China, too, would expect a peaceful and trouble-free Malaysia if it is to invest substantially here. So would the 4 million Chinese citizens who Najib says should be coming next year. Surely, the government would not allow violence to break out and frighten them away.
To put it metaphorically, this Saturday, China will be holding a string tied to Najib’s testicles, and Najib will be holding one tied to Jamal’s testicles and another to the IGP’s. None of them would want to risk the strings getting pulled.
It’s all sandiwara
So, all that sabre-rattling by Jamal and the red-shirts about Bersih 5 appears to be just that. It is part of a show to demonise the reform movement and warn the simple-minded folk of its danger to the status quo, and concomitantly remind the Malays that Umno is their only protector, their saviour. It’s all sandiwara.
I think those who may have been intimidated by fear of violence and decided not to turn up for Bersih 5 should reconsider.
Those who complain of ‘political fatigue’ and want to sit this one out should transcend themselves and think of the larger cause. They might then realise that it could constitute their moral duty to be part of a movement that wants a better Malaysia.
Those who say it would be futile to participate in another rally because nothing has changed since Bersih 4 last year should consider that the road to reform can often be long and difficult, and that the objective may not even be finally attained, but if the cause is worth fighting for, regardless of whether the outcome will be victory or defeat, it is important to fight the good fight.
And as for those who are still sceptical about whether Najib needs to be investigated for corruption, all they need to do is consider what Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad have been saying in regard to the issue.
Maria has been quoted as saying: “We cannot have a prime minister who steals money from the people and still allow him to be our prime minister.” This is a serious statement, but Najib has not sued her for defamation.
Last July, Lim pronounced, “Thanks to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Malaysia has achieved a new status, becoming overnight a kleptocracy and one of the most globally corrupt nations...”
‘Kleptocracy’ is defined as “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves”.
Lim has repeated this a few times, verbally and in writing, but Najib has not taken out a defamation lawsuit against him.
Mahathir has openly and publicly called Najib “pencuri” (thief) numerous times. What could be more direct and damning than that, more damaging to Najib’s reputation? But Najib has taken no action against him either.
Do we need more reasons to go for Bersih 5 then?
Oh, by the way, Jamal said one-and-a-half months ago that he had proof that Bersih planned to “take over” several strategic locations during Bersih 5, like the Prime Minister’s Office and the KL International Airport (KLIA).
He also said Bersih had been infiltrated by terrorist group Islamic State (IS), and he feared that IS might hijack the rally.
Come along this Saturday and see if this is going to happen!
KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of the bestsellers ‘Unbelievably Stupid!’ and ‘Unbelievably Stupid Too!’- Mkini