NAJIB THROWS MARIA INTO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: SHOCK MOMENTS OF 2016
A potential clash of colours was averted when Red Shirt supporters tried to hinder yellow-shirted Bersih campaigners during their roadshow in the run-up of the Bersih 5 rally. However, minor skirmishes did break out with kicks and punches traded by the rival groups.
The Year 2016 saw the Malaysian public witnessing the rancour of the Red Shirts against the Yellow Shirts. They coloured the streets and roads along the country from September to November.
Flares were triggered following the announcement by Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah on Sept 14 that the election watchdog would launch its fifth edition of its street protest on Nov 19.
The protest, she had said, was for the government to meet its five demands for clean elections, a clean government, strengthening parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent and the empowering of Sabah and Sarawak.
In the run-up to the rally, she also announced that Bersih 2.0 would hold a seven-week nationwide convoy across the country to raise awareness on the need for all Malaysians to support its reform agenda.
The flag-off for the convoy took place simultaneously in six places — Kangar (Perlis), Johor Baru (Johor), Kota Baru (Kelantan), Lumut (Perak), Sandakan (Sabah) and Miri (Sarawak).
This prompted Red Shirts leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos to bring forth his Red Shirts supporters to face off against Bersih supporters throughout the convoy as well as the Bersih 5 rally.
The convoy, which kicked off on Oct 1, saw the Red Shirts members led by Jamal causing minor skirmishes with the Yellow Shirts at various locations such as Teluk Intan and Lumut in Perak.
While on Oct 9, police arrested three Red Shirts supporters after they had allegedly assaulted two Bersih supporters on motorcycles and threw eggs at them in Sabak Bernam, Selangor.
Further attempts to disrupt the polls reform group’s convoy in several locations resulted in several members of the media being assaulted by Red Shirts members in during a Bersih convoy in Kuala Selangor on Oct 15.
This prompted Jamal, who was in Dubai, UAE, to issue an apology following the incident. However, he was subsequently arrested and remanded for two days following his return on Oct 19 after allegedly posted seditious remarks on Facebook.
As the day to the rally loomed, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Nov 2 urged both Bersih 2.0 and the Red Shirts to call off their rallies to prevent problems.
However, Jamal and the Red Shirts members diverted their attention on Nov 5 to newsportal Malaysiakini’s office, protesting against the funding of several local groups by Open Society Foundation (OSF), a grant making organisation run by billionaire George Soros.
Initially, the group was supposed to gather at Dataran Merdeka as a prelude to their Nov 19 counter-rally against Bersih 5 before being banned by the authorities instead.
On the eve of the rally, the police during their raid on Bersih’s office in Petaling Jaya arrested Maria Chin and Bersih 2.0 secretariat Mandeep Singh along with several other Bersih supporters at various locations for their part in organising the rally.
Initially detained under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, the police then detained her under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 which allows the police to extend the detention for up to 28 days for the purpose of investigations.
Following severe criticism and public outcry, Maria Chin was eventually released on Nov 28.
On the other hand, Jamal along with two others were arrested a few hours before the Bersih rally began for their involvement in a scuffle during a Bersih convoy rally at the Ampang Point shopping centre.
Jamal who had suffered a bloodied nose following the incident, was detained for four days before being released.
While many predicted chaos and clashes at the Bersih 5 rally today, it ended in what can be described as a festival-like celebration.
The Bersih 5 rally goers sang and danced their way through the rain towards the end of the eight-hour demonstration, with many describing it a success with no untoward incidents involving the Red Shirts.
While some 100,000 participants clad in Bersih T-shirts painting the streets yellow, the supposed Red Shirts counter rally had a mundane turnout with only merely 5,000 protesters turning up.