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After 3 p.m. everything turned ugly Bersih 3.0 – Points to Ponder

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By Suresh Naidu Sadasivan

‘428’is over and the nation is still talking about it. I was there for the ‘tearful’ showdown by the police near Dataran ‘Tak’ Merdeka, (near Masjid Jamek [mosque] to be specific) and managed to see the first tear gas canister being shot behind a signage hanging at the side of the LRT track. It was directed towards the peaceful crowd though. When the crowd started dispersing (running in fact) two more canisters fell just into the crowd causing further panic. Someone just passed around some salt that is supposed to reduce the effects of the tear gas inhaled. Most of the salt was on my head and hand. A group of us were lucky enough to be given shelter at the vicinity of the mosque itself. My Muslim brothers gave their hands to pull us up across the sharp edged fence around the mosque. Tears from my eyes never stopped, not because of the gas but seeing my Malay brothers there helping to wash faces of my Chinese and Indian brothers to reduce the effects of burning eyes. What I saw was the real unity of 1Malaysia that has been propagated by the Malaysian government. Well, the overall turning of the events made me to ponder upon a few things.

First of all, it is the denial by the government (in other words DBKL [maybe]) to give Dataran Merdeka to organize the ‘duduk bantah’ protest. Let’s assume the place was given. Would that mean that the government had given in to what Bersih has been asking? Probably that would have been the case and hence the denial. If that is the case there must have been a strict ‘NO’. At the eleventh hour they offered Stadium Merdeka which was denied during the Bersih 2.0! Did anyone realize the contradiction, especially those who have been against the Bersih movement? Do people contradict themselves and pretend not to know it? Or it only happens in Malaysia?

Secondly, it’s the authorities. Since morning everything went on well. We even shook hands with the police for there were no restrictions. They were calm, smiling and even chit-chatting. After 3 p.m. everything turned ugly. They started with what was referred by some as ‘professional’ act.  We saw the worst of the enforcers. When the organizers asked the crowd to disburse, no one really heard it as the crowd was way too big for a few numbers of loud hailers. Knowing this the police (whom are well aware of it) should have offered their loud hailers which I am sure are far more advanced and loud enough. One of the main organizers of Bersih 3.0 could have been invited to do the talking. Being very close to Dataran Merdeka, we never saw any commotion or whatsoever. Even if there was one, I am sure the police would have been able to handle it. That is to say could have arrested the perpetrators rather than disbursing the crowd using tear gas and water cannon. Well, only the parties involved know what actually happened there. Agent provocateurs?

Next, the organizers of Bersih 3.0. The organizing of the peaceful protest was perfect. Well communicated to almost 300,000 people who have attended. What about the communication during the rally? Who is supposed to lead the crowd and who took charge of communicating information to the crowd especially when they were asked to disburse? A small battalion of police blocked our way out of Masjid Jamek not allowing us to move out. Then came this guy with a loud hailer and said something to the crowd in front of the mosque which we could hardly make out as to the information. The only word I heard was ‘bersurai’ (disburse). Just to confirm I asked my friend Jonathan to ask another guy in front of him. His answer was, “kita pergi Dataran” (we go to Dataran)! This is one simple example of communication at ground zero (or could he be one of the agent provocateurs). Shouldn’t the organizers have asked the police’s help to use their hi-tech loud hailers? At least they should have been ready with one. Shouldn’t they have thought about how they would disburse the crowd if it were to be successful?

Now the protesters are being accused of violence on the road and destroying public property. Can the authorities confirm any act of violence or destruction before their ‘show’, as early as wee hours of 428? Imagine you are sprayed chemical laced water and tear gas. Surely you will run for your life and I did that too. How about those who are unable to keep their temper? Even the police couldn’t control themselves. All the Youtube videos (non-edited version) and photos posted in social media would prove it to you. One protester was beaten up by almost ten to fifteen officers in open space? Can you imagine what would happen to someone in the lock-up? So, what happened was an act of retaliation and of course twisted by the media. In fact, a police patrol car was overturned by the crowd after a lady started screaming that someone was pinned underneath. By the way, do petrol cars drive through a crowd that is running amok expecting that they won’t retaliate? Can someone pass out when people throw bottles on to the car to the extent of stitches on the head? The injury was on his left and someone threw something (agent provocateurs again?) from the left passenger side (unless the windshield was open)? The benefit of the doubt is his.

Finally, as usual the media spoke ‘wonders’ about Bersih 3.0. Did they report as to why the patrol car was overturned? I quote Malcolm X where he said “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power because they control the minds of the masses.” Could this be the reason why Malaysian media is being controlled as to the truth, to the extent BBC had to investigate a local media if their news on Bersih 3.0 had been edited? Is this the realization of the ‘controlling parties’ that the media (excluding online) will reach mainly the rural areas?

Well, there are way too many points to ponder I guess. Don’t you think there would be fear of losing ‘job’ after ‘55 years of working at an office’ that you would do anything (to the extent of being dirty) to remain there? Shouldn’t you get yourself qualified and become clean that re-appointment would be eminent? Imagine 250,000 protesters reaching out to 10 and that 10 reaching out another 10 as to what had happened? Do your calculation and ponder upon it!