Monday, November 12, 2007

10/11 Day of Reckoning

I walked the talk! But is it enough?
"BERSIH" were the movers and motivators of the 10/11 initiative to deliver to the Agong a petition to ensure clean and fair elections on a level playing field! BERSIH is not a registered organisation unlike most NGOs and political parties. It is just a coalition of NGOs, political parties and for those who support its efforts but not belonging to any NGOs or political party, individuals like myself. It is more an idea supported by like minded individuals and organisations than it is an organisation, if we have to get legal about it.
It is the idea that would be the portion that would be more potent than any organisation or people going under the name of BERSIH that the leaders of UMNO would really need to fear. UMNO and all its tools, including the police, are only too skilled in undoing organisations and individuals. Reformasi was more or less killed off with Anwar Ibrahim's incarceration under the guise of legalise and judicial proprieties and pursuit. Nevermind if in that pursuit it was the judiciary that was scarred forever.
It was more important for UMNO to show this 10/11 movement as a lawless, chaotic and violent move on the part of the organisers and participants. It was necessary for there to have been a dose of violence and arrests and of course a shower of chemically laced water shot out of the FRU's water canons and a few tear gas shots to provide the necessary image of the need to instill law and order.
I was there when they started the water canons along Jalan Tun Perak near Masjid Jamek. Was it needed? No! Was it warranted? No! Was it derserved? No!
But for the impression that needed to be created for the rest of the people who were not there that this was a violent and unrully demonstration and so that the next day's papers could write "FRU had to use water canons and tear gas to disperse..." , I guess the firing of the canons and tear gas were needed. It was needed to support a lie! It was needed to support a position the government wished to take.
And after everything is over, to diminish what the 10/11 movement accomplished, i.e. to deliver to the Agong, its petition for a clean and fair elections, the Prime Minister has to make statements belittling the King himself. What ever came to Badawi's mind that he should think that the King would allow himself to be used by the opposition or, for that matter, by anyone else?
Knowing the King had already previously given permission to those leading the 10/11 movement to deliver the petition on 10/11 at the Istana, Badawi firstly issued warnings that the police will not allow the movement to act. His son-in-law threatened chaos if he was to unleash the UMNO supporters on this crowd. Knowing the people wanted to meet the King with his permission, the Police refused to issue the necessary permit. Knowing a date was set with the Palace for the petition to be delivered the Police did everything to stop that from happening. Having assembled after the King had granted leave to receive the petition, the police charged, harrassed, curtailed, stopped, water canonned, tear gassed, beat up and arrested some of the people. And all they wanted to do was to see their king!
Obviously the Police Di-Raja, don't seem to have any respect for their king who they are supposed to serve in the first instance. Might as well change their name to Police UMNO!
On the other hand I have to thank Badawi and the Police too. For once I saw and felt what it was like to be Bangsa Malaysia. I remember that day in 1987 when because of a shooting in Chow Kit Road, the whole city came to a halt and streets were deserted and tension filled the air when I had to walk and drive through some of the same streets I walked on 10/11. I was in the midst of a crowd of Malays shouting Allah Hu Akhbar. I mouthed that phrase myself. We all chanted Daulat Tuanku together. We all felt like one! The only ones to fear, if at all, were the FRU and the police. Even then, it was clear to see that the police were only reluctantly doing what they were doing. Some of the police were even friendly to the point of telling us where to go.
I cannot end this without highlighting my respect and awe for the Unit Amal Malaysia (or whatever) from PAS (all dressed in maroon shirts). They stood between the Police/FRU and the rest of us. They prompted us to disperse in the most friendly way when the police issued their disperse orders. In fact they were really acting on the Police orders except that they were not police and instead of the police acting on their own orders it was this Unit which acted. That kept us all safe. That probably also thwarted any hope that this will be an unrully assembly.
This homogenising towards Bangsa Malaysia of people as diverse as DAP and PAS minded people can only happen when forces greater than them force it upon them. UMNO is such a force. Maybe there is goodness that can come out of evil after all.


At November 23, 2007 at 5:45 PM, Blogger KLConfidential said...

Hi Paul,

I posted Beth Yahp's open letter to PM in my blog earlier and received a comment yesterday. Hope you could have a look and tell me what you think. I'm still thinking of a fit response to it.

Here's the said comment:
Dear Ms Yahp,

Why was it necessary for the one thousand odd lawyers joined by others to walk in protest while they could’ve met the Prime Minister to discuss the matter of their grievance through the good office of the Bar Council? Was the Council’s effort to secure a meeting with the PM frustrated which would justify the march?

On 10th November 2007, 40,000 people perhaps 80% of whom were members of the opposition parties gathered illegally to show the world a dark picture of our beloved country.

I’ve viewed most of the videos on the event in Malaysia Today and not one of them showed any evidence of people being beaten by the authorities. In this day and age where cameras and videos are incorporated into mobile telephones, I doubt if such an opportunity would have been missed by those in attendance.

Security forces are usually not deployed to safeguard the safety of those defying the law. They are there to enforce the law. They are not responsible to handle with care children who were “lovingly” brought by their “responsible” parents to an unlawful gathering.

It is certainly a journalist’s privilege to witness and report the event in full. Foreign journalists had no problems getting in. Even Harakah journalists did a full coverage on it. If the proper identification tags were displayed, I’m sure they would have been accorded the protocol. Today there are many parties claiming to be members of the media. Even bloggers claim to be such just because they do some pieces of reporting here and there.

You mention of “ state controlled” media like Malaysia is the only country in the world that has this practice. I urge you to look not to far in our neighbours. Our “state controlled” media at least are allowed to whack government officials and even cabinet ministers. Which other “state controlled” media in which other country will allow this? Perhaps being a non-Malay you may not subscribe to the Harakah Daily which is the opposition controlled newspaper. This newspaper goes to town with just about anything against the government but unlike its counterpart, they don’t highlight the wrongdoings of their leaders. On that score, I’d say the state controlled entity gets my vote.

This obedience that you speak of in journalists occur everywhere. State owned ones will take orders from the government leaders while the opposition ones do just the same with their leaders. So why are you complaining as this is not the fault of the bosses? On the contrary, it is the journalists whom we should blame for being normal human beings; loyal to the paymaster as long as they are on the payroll. The classic example is in the former “state owned” newspaper journalists who are knowned bloggers today, complaining about how the newspaper editors write their columns to suite their bosses when in truth, they did the same damned thing when they were in under a different leader.

“Riots” were used by the foreign media trying to amplify their description of this peaceful gathering. I say it was relatively peaceful because I didn’t see any water cannons nor tear gas being applied at the rightful venue where the 40,000 were, which was at the Istana.

I hope you have couriered the letter that you have written to the Honourable Prime Minister while posting it in here. It is only fair that you do. I‘m sure that despite the fact that the event was illegal, high-jacked by a knowned corrupt and abusive former leader of the government, the PM will take into account of the grievances put forth. As it is, the government has agreed to use indelible ink and transparent boxes as demanded by the people. This is evidence that the people’s grievances have not fallen on deaf ears.

In saying that he “pantang di cabar”, it doesn’t mean that he cannot be challenged. It means that he will take on the challenge if it comes his way. As it is every citizen’s right to challenge, it is also his right to defend or even counter-challenge as he is too a citizen of this country like you and I.

I urge those complaining too much about the freedom of speech, press and what not to step back and re-look at the whole picture without blinkers. I’ve watched several live telecasts of a forum which includes the opposition and they get to say more than their piece on national television at prime time. Also, while the live telecast was on, the bottom strip was running with text comments from the viewers and several of them even ran down the PM. So I hope the detractors would use another line to defame the government as this no longer holds water.

Ms. Yahp,I am a normal citizen of Malaysia. I’ve lived in many countries in four continents lasting 17 years. In my experience abroad I have found that there is no such thing as an absolute democratic country like the one you’re wanting. The most popular country that prides itself with democracy even beats people up in front of the United Nations in New York.

This is still the best country to live in, even for members of the opposition who are free to whack the government, yet still live luxurious lives with their families in tact. Take a hard look down south, and be grateful for what God has given us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I remain,
Da Real Deal Esq.


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