Betrayed, backstabbed and bothered, Bersih has decided to dig in and from a strategy point of view, this is the wisest move it can make - perhaps the only viable option. The coalition of 62 NGOs issued a statement late on Wednesday night that its high-profile July 9 rally for free and fair elections will be held at Stadium Merdeka at 2pm.
“Whatever happens between now and then, the rakyat will gather peacefully in an orderly fashion to call for clean and fair elections," Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan and her committee said.
The statement did not mention but if the stadium doors are barred and the authorities refuse to compromise, then supporters will likely assemble in the vicinity of the stadium, a historical site where first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had declared independence from British rule.
Hours before that, at a gathering of foreign journalists, Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan had accused the authorities of “lacking good faith” in demanding that her group apply for a permit to hold the rally. Yes, Prime Minister Najib Razak reneged on allowing Bersih to use any stadium of their choice if they agreed to shift their rally away from the streets. He tried to take advantage of the situation to come out on top, but as usual, he was too clumsy and ended up making a bigger mess of things.
Imagine after having so publicly offered a stadium of any choice in response to a call from the King, the PM thought he could get away by passing the buck to the police and the Home Minister. Why should Malaysians pay Najib then?
Simply put, and as Ambiga too has found out in the past few days, the buck must stop at the top. And not be passed round and down until it is the office boy at the Registrar of Societies and the guard manning the gates at the police HQ who are jointly at fault for outlawing Bersih and arresting activists for wearing yelow T-shirts.
No one is in charge
Whichever way you analyze it, it is Najib's lack of leadership, his political cowardice, and reliance on his enemies within UMNO to kill themselves while he 'holds back' that is causing the current turmoil in once high-flying Malaysia. Instead of gathering the nation together and leading the people onto an enlightened path, Najib is deliberately leaving them in a maze of evil and hatred.
It is indeed Najib's "lack of good faith" that has forced Bersih to dig in. And this time, chances are high they will stand their ground. Certainly, no one could dare to trust Najib, not after bending over backwards only to be stabbed in back by a leader of such high authority - the Prime Minister of Malaysia, no less. A shame to the nation, a total disgrace and washout .
Without doubt, Najib is the worst ever PM in Malaysian history so far. Since he took power in April 2009, very little has gone right and almost everything has gone wrong. No wonder, there are so many in UMNO waiting to scalp him, but the thing is - do all the infighting within UMNO confines. Keep the greedy power games within the party. Don't drag in the rest of the nation and destroy its image with shenanigans that ultimately are meant to retain personal power rather than for serving the people.
Not far behind is Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa, who announced that his ultra Malay rights group would hold a rally at the same stadium. “I understand that Bersih too has chosen Stadium Merdeka. But we submitted our application first to use that venue." Is that so? LOL.
Najib must postpone trip
Then there is the conventiently leaderless UMNO Youth. Frankly, some of the Pemuda are already grandfathers but age apparently does not mature UMNO Youths. Just look at how they donned 'Patriot' T-shirts and ganged up - all 600-odd of them - on motor-bikes to threaten to burn down the PKR HQ. And they expect Malaysians to believe that their gathering was spontaneous and not pre-planned. Of course, Khairy doesn't know anything about it. He is not even here but in Greece. So, why do Malays want to vote for someone who is always absent when the going gets tough?
Same goes for Najib, who is due to fly off on July 8, a day before the rally. Should Malaysians allow their PM to escape when Malaysia is in grave danger. The cops have warned of a foreign takeover. They have warn of bloodshed. Why is Najib deserting his people then and why aren't Malaysian demanding that he cancels or at least delays, so as to take full responsibility and charge of how to fend off such an attack on the country.
After all, in the recent orphanage landslide tragedy - both he and Rosmah rushed back from their US trip to console the survivors. So why fly off on the 8th and be forced to fly back on the 9th if something unfortunate happens. Surely, as head of the executive he should be asked to defer his trip on the grounds of emergency and not run away and leave it to the Police to implement something as serious as Emergency rule once he is safely out of the country.
Academicians, intellectuals, religious heads, societies, NGOs, prominent citizens, business associations, Malaysians - what say you all? Should the PM stay back or not during this most crucial time? And if he refuses, should Malaysians not Demand that he tenders his resignation with immediate effect?
Making a fool of the King's advice
Then there is his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein. Frankly, we do not wish to waste too much ink on such an inconsequential leader. A person is judged by his actions, so let Hisham be judged by his. We are sure he knows by now his chances of filling the topmost post are as good as zero. Even the staunchest of UMNO members would think twice of electing such an incompetent non-intellectual to be their president.
As for the police - which actually means the top two cops Ismail Omar and Khalid Bakar - they should visit their own lockups and stay there. If they trigger bloodshed, Malaysians must demand that. There must no escape routes - no easy resignations, tons of cash already in bank accounts, bungalows here and there for any one if there is bloodshed. All must take full responsiblity - a word that has disappeared from the Malaysian political scene since April 2009, when Najib Razak became PM.
As for the Royalty, preserving their heritage - for each Household has its own proud and long history - should come first rather than any monetary gain. Yes, Mahathir Mohamad took away the powers of the Sultans and the Kings, but so what? Does it mean the Rulers have to agree to everything demanded by a corrupt regime? Why must they? Even if they can't stop the administrators of the day, they can safeguard their heritage and reputation by refusing to condone or by expressing disapproval for questionable developments, such as now in the Bersih saga.
In this case, Tuanku Mizan is left in an awkward position. The King has been made a fool of by Najib, Ibrahim Ali, UMNO Youth and the police. But we wonder, what would Malaysians think if the King were to issue another statement - this time, absolving those guys and instead pinpointing Ambiga and the Bersih commitee as the real culprits out to provoke social disorder. Sometimes, offering profuse thanks as Ambiga and team have does not help.
More upheavals and arrests
Today is Thursday. Saturday, 2pm is very close by. For all Bersih supporters, focus on the goal. FOCUS. Because the next two days will be the toughest yet. All sorts of Bollywood, Mollywood and Chollywood antics are in store and will be launched against Bersih.Take these in stride. The Bersih organisers will surely provide updates, so check out their website.
Handphone, Internet and social media services can be expected to be interrupted. The government-media has already been told not to show on TV footage of police beating up anyone. Obviously, there may be more arrests.
Speaking of which, the steering committe should also brace to be arrested before Saturday - may even today - for digging in, and Malaysians should know what to do if the authorities were indeed stupid enough to do that.
Bersih supporters, who need more information, should look for it and make their plans fast. The information-givers should also make sure that all essential information can easily be sourced. Also do bear in mind, the police won't be putting up road signs, arrows, service or drinks booths for you guys. No mobile toilets either. So think about that and successfully Circumvent your obstacles.
Running away when the country is about to be 'attacked'
As for Najib, UMNO and Co, Malaysians should not waste any more time on a bunch that will never change. If they could, would Malaysia still be in the sorry state that it is now. Should citizens of a modern-day nation with a fifty year history have to face such grand-scale intimidation just to express wishes for free and fair elections? Something is clearly Wrong.
Just imagine, Malaysia Truly Asia has a Prime Minister - the Pride of UMNO - who runs away on the eve of an event that his police warn will see "foreign agents" and "major powers" making an attempt to take over the country.
Malaysia, amazing indeed!
Himpunan Bersih - Masih Bertarik Tali