Like other nations that have a constitutional monarch, the Malaysian King rarely speaks except while opening the Parliament or issuing greetings for festive occasions. And those speeches or statements are written by the government of the day.
Yet, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, broke his silence last night over the confrontation between Bersih 2.0 and the Najib administration that has led to detentions under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and the outlawing of the electoral reforms coalition.
The Terengganu sultan spoke softy but firmly in his statement that urged restraint and called for a return to the negotiating table, without ever referring to the July 9 rally as illegal unlike Putrajaya’s campaign in the past week where state media and even the mosques were used to demonise the movement.
The widely-respected ruler chose his words carefully, expressing belief in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s capability to handle the issue but asking the government to carry out its duties in a just and wise manner.
It was easy to understand what he meant. Detaining those who wore yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the word “bersih” was an overkill on the part of the authorities. More than 100 have been held and six are now detained under the Emergency Ordinance for purportedly trying to revive communism and ‘“waging war against the Agong”.
Their crime? Having t-shirts with images of leaders from the banned Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), the party that failed and had to lay down their arms in 1989. Did it make sense to even arrest them for wearing those t-shirts unless the police are also now policing fashion?
Perhaps it is good to recall what Bersih 2.0 wants to highlight during their rally, which they planned after being left hanging by the Election Commission (EC). The movement seeks free and fair elections in their eight-point list.
For that, Perkasa and Umno Youth want to take to the streets and protest against. For that, a national silat group has threatened violence. For that, the police have gone all out to pick up anyone wearing a yellow t-shirt with the word “bersih”. For that, we have public service clips on national television and radio rubbishing the movement and the rally.
What does the Barisan Nasional (BN) fear that has radicalised enough people to want to march come what may?
The King saw enough to say this last night, “I as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong do not want to see this country with a plural society in a situation where there is animosity among them or a section of the people being enemies with the government, on whatever grounds.
“When any problem arises, we as a civilised society must resolve it through consultations and not follow our emotions, as the Malay saying goes, “Yang Dikejar Tak Dapat Yang Dikendong Berciciran (Not getting what we chase after and spilling what we carry),” he added.
His message is clear to both Bersih 2.0 and Putrajaya. Talk to each other, because the alternative is not good for the country although he understood the spirit of the rally.
In no uncertain terms, Tuanku Mizan said, “The fact is, street demonstrations bring more bad than good although the original intention is good. Instead, we should focus on our main objective to develop this country, and not create problems that will cause the country to lag behind.
“Remember that there is no land where the rain does not fall, there is no ocean that is not turbulent. That is how important moderation and compromise is, which has been long been in practice by our nation’s administration.”
Putrajaya and Bersih 2.0 have to take this chance given by the King to thrash out the burning issues that divide them. After all, the ultimate winner is the people who see free and fair elections as a way to get the best government of the day.
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