My driver was anxiously telling me how he evaded the road block on his way to pick me up at the airport, on the eve of Bersih 2.0’s July 9 rally. Before I can start telling him about my trip to Hong Kong and the wonderful foods that I had, he told me not to worry because he would use another route to send me home. Obviously he wasn’t listening and didn’t care about my Hong Kong trip and who could blame him when almost every Tom, Dick and his dog were affected (and excited) about the Bersih 2.0 rally, one way or another.
It seems the Malaysian police received tips that thousands of stubborn supporters would somehow invade the capital city Kuala Lumpur from the country’s international airport, hence the road-block – how stupid can that be. I told my driver I was thinking about staying put in Hong Kong to help the number (of Bersih 2.0 Hong Kong version) since Kuala Lumpur was literally paralysed due to the police lockdown as if the city was infected by some sort of virus. But my driver said the most electrifying moment only happen in the city so I should come back to experience it, whatever that means.
I didn’t give much hope that the Bersih 2.0 would be any success compared to the first version although I did write about the unexpected turn-out due to PM Najib Razak’s own stupidity – repeating the history and in the process giving free but valuable publicity to the Bersih 2.0 rally. And the most terrifying moment in the entire political life of PM Najib emerges – a united estimated 50,000 Malaysians regardless of ethnic, religion, age, wealth and whatnot took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur in defiance of the government ban, hand-in-hand. If I were Najib Razak, I would be constipating, knowing my throne is slipping away.
If there’s one army that you can’t defeat, that army would be these 50,000 united citizens who came out arming with nothing more than their determination and spirit in demanding for a simple request – a fair election. For once, they’re united for a single cause. You can’t help but shed tears watching how peaceful and the close comradeship demonstrated by these people in helping each other – against the brutality of the police. Unlike Bersih 1.0, this round of rally triggered international attention when Malaysians from around the world; from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan to as far as United States, Canada, France and Switzerland joined forces in the rally.
Arrogance is addictive, so I suppose PM Najib felt how his predecessor, former PM Abdullah Badawi, was feeling when Badawi thought he was invincible when confronted with peoples rally back in 2007. If only Najib took the different route and allows these people to march peacefully and hand-over whatever their petitions to the King, he would not have to worry about the post-rally effects now. With a record-breaking 1,667 people arrested, including 151 women and 16 children, 1 death due to tear-gas paid by taxpayers money and international coverage from CNN to Al-Jazeera on police’s brutality, Najib administration should be shivering in fears instead of still boasting about his ability to mobilize so-called 3 million UMNO members for a similar rally.
Now that the rally is over and the government-controlled media started spinning stories in an attempt for damage-control, who’re the winners and losers post Bersih 2.0 rally? As expected both Malaysian Government and Bersih claim victories. Maybe it’s true that there’re no losers and everyone is a winner.
First Winner – Bersih 2.0
Obviously Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) is now a well-known household brand name synonym with “Fair and Clean”. You can bet your money that if you register this name as a political party and put a donkey as the candidate, you will win the seat with handsome majority (*grin*). Forget about Najib’s pea-size brain cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin, who declared Bersih as an illegal organization. The fact that the King agreed for an audience with Bersih representatives means Bersih is recognized as a coalition of 62 NGOs whose interest was purely in promoting democracy and free and fair elections in Malaysia.
Bersih 2.0 chairperson, Ambiga, was right when she said Bersih was not about her or any other political parties. Bersih was about the people, the voice of rakyat for a fair election.
Second Winner – Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih chairperson
Ambiga, a Malaysian lawyer who served is the President of the Malaysian Bar Council from 2007 – 2009, became one of the eight recipients of the 2009 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2009. She is perhaps widely known as the lawyer who stood in the controversial religious case for Lina Joy in her apostasy case. From being attacked in a racial slur by Perkasa as a dangerous Hindu woman to SMS death threat and the call to revoke her citizenship, this woman gains the respect of many for her perseverance.
However she was taking a huge risk when she said she will cancel the rally should she be ordered to do so by the King as it was public knowledge that King’s scripts were normally drafted by Najib administration beforehand. The event sent many in the Bersih committee in disarray and divided over the next course of action should the King were to be on Najib’s side. It was a brilliant tactical move by Najib (or rather Mahathir?) nevertheless in trapping Ambiga who is a political novice. Fortunately, the King granted her an audience, indirectly recognized Bersih as a coalition despite Najib’s cousin declaring it as an illegal movement.
The King neither asked Ambiga to cancel nor endorse the rally but advised both Bersih and Najib administration to negotiate. Needless to say, the arrogant Najib refuse to entertain the King’s advise as it would be seen as losing face to Bersih. Now, Ambiga is an asset whom opposition party (and Najib? Nah!) can recruit as a credible candidate for the next general election.
Third Winner – Opposition parties
As I’ve blogged earlier, when the opposition parties were searching for the next weapon to keep the momentum alive ahead of a snap election speculated to be called anytime soon, Najib foolishly presented them with one. The opposition parties would not have the best platform to swing the fence-sitting voters over to their camp if Najib didn’t show his arrogance by threatening Bersih with the silliest accusation – working with communists and arresting people who wear yellow shirts. He should have engaged Bersih with the objective of locking out opposition parties from riding on the wave of Bersih’s rally.
Thanks to police’s brutality in firing tear-gas directly at innocent crowds, the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was himself injured while another was dead and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to find election campaign bullets. If opposition parties were to probably lose Selangor and Kedah while maintaining Perak states if a snap election were to call this year, the same cannot be said now post Bersih rally. Should Najib allows the rally to proceed, his administration may be able to regain its two-third majority.
Fourth Winner – Mahathir Mohamad
Despite low-profile, this former dictator was the person pulling strings from behind in his attempt to dislodge Najib in favor of deputy PM Muhyiddin. It was not a surprise that Mahathir was the person who almost checkmate Bersih Ambiga when the King was dragged into the crisis. How Mahathir wished the King was the Sultan of Pahang, Perak or Johor. Nevertheless damage has been done and if history were to repeat itself, Najib will most unlikely able to reclaim two-thirds majority in the next general election hence Mahathir’s ambitious plan to install his son as the deputy Prime Minister looks bright.
Fifth Winner – deputy PM Muhyiddin
Compare to Najib, Muhyiddin is more cruel, decisive and dirty (politically) – something that former dictator PM Mahathir possess. Mahathir can almost swear Muhyiddin looks like him when he was his age. The only thing Mahathir need to do now is to assure Muhyiddin will keep to his promise to warm up the premier seat for his own son after a single term. What Muhyiddin needs to do now is to keep low profile and pour more kerosene into the fire in the hate-Najib campaign, quietly. As long as he can proves that he’s as loyal as a dog to Mahathir, his key to the premier throne is assured.
Sixth Winner – Police
That’s right, the police force is the winner and is proven during the rally. The police succeeded in doing all the dirty works commissioned by Najib administration through his cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. And as a reward, top guns such as IGP (Inspector General of Police) Ismail Omar, deputy IGP Khalid Abu Bakar, City acting police chief Amar Singh, Selangor police chief Tun Hisan and others who carried their duties “faithfully as instructed” are assured of their next promotion (or contract extension).
As a bonus, the police has also done the Najib administration proud by firing and attacking Tung Shin Hospital, a clear breach of Geneva Convention. When not even the United Nations dare to attack hospitals in compliance with Geneva Convention, which was used by dictator Colonel Gaddafi to cowardly hide in Libyan hospitals, Malaysia police under the instruction from Najib administration were happily spreading rounds of tear gas into the civilian hospital. How difficult for the police to deny this – just blame it on the wind and the science of physics that carried the bullets and tear gas into the hospital compound (*grin*).
Malaysian police was so successful in their crackdown against the rally that the whole capital of Kuala Lumpur was literally turned into a ghost town. Intimidation, bullying, threats, roadblocks and brutality against their own citizens were carried out flawlessly and systematically. Police’s dedication would literally make you cry as they comb almost each and every hotel in the city, looking for prospect demonstrators. If only they’re as hardworking in looking for criminals.
But above all, the Malaysia police should be congratulated for striking a very high success rate of arrest when 1,667 people were arrested during the “illegal rally” – that’s a whopping 27.78% success rate out of 6,000 demonstrators as claimed by the IGP. Malaysia now has another commodity for export. Bet Colonel Gaddafi would pay top money to engage Malaysian police services.
Seventh Winner – Brave-heart Shop Owners
Just like Warren Buffett’s stock investing quote – Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Be Greedy When Others Are Fearful, only a handful of shop owners opened their business during the rally and as a reward, they enjoyed fantastic business and profit. Others who blindly believed the government’s fear propaganda shutdown their businesses. Strangely despite all the chaos and havoc projected by government-controlled media, not a single shop owner complained of looting or property damages.
In actual fact, if the people were to allow rally peacefully, the tens or probably hundreds of thousands of these “visitors” would bring roaring businesses to all the shop owners. It would be a carnival-like party or festival.
Eighth Winner – Najib Razak
Despite criticisms, Najib is one of the biggest winners here. Maybe it was true that he cowardly tried to fly out of the country before the Bersih 2.0 rally but fortunately his wife Rosmah Mansor stopped him from doing so. Now that the rally was over and with an estimated 50,000 people took to the street, he can spin the story that Bersih 2.0 was a failure as it couldn’t get the promise 100,000 or 500,000 people. In contrast, he can easily mobilize 3 million UMNO members, if he wanted to. He can also be assured of undivided police support should he decide to declare emergency in order to stay in power, in case the opposition managed to win with simple majority in the next general election.
He was particularly proud on how he skillfully cheated Ambiga’s Bersih 2.0 that the government would provide a stadium for them to shout and scream from day to night, only to flop and claim he didn’t promise the Merdeka Stadium but other stadium elsewhere. Ambiga and his team were given the run around and that was so funny. This whole rally also presented Najib with a very important platform – survivability stress test; in the event of an internal power struggle within his own UMNO party. He may be stupid but not his Imelda-Marcos wannabe wife, Rosmah Mansor.
The police backing, army support under his buddy Defence Minister, ability to defy King’s instruction and whatnot would guarantee his premiership. Heck, so what if it’s the King who can only declare emergency, constitutionally speaking? In this case study, obviously Najib administration asked the King to fly kite, literally, when it defied the Highess instruction to negotiate with Bersih. Najib can declare one (state of emergency) himself even if the King refuses to, and will literally get away with it. That was what the Royal Malay Regiment, Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and the police Army Unit and Air Wing joint-exercise right before the rally was all about.
In reality, Prime Minister of Malaysia is the most powerful person in the country, provided you’ve the right backing from the police and army forces, which Najib has at the moment. That was why his most trusted lieutenants were entrusted with the portfolio of Home Minister and Defence Minister. Together with his Finance Minister post, Najib is almost invincible. If I were Najib, I would dissolve the Parliament and call a snap election this week. With only 50,000 against you but more than 28,000,000 people supporting you, what are there to worry about, Mr. Najib Razak?
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