The 34-hour marathon is finally over. This is the first time a Bersih rally lasted such a long hour, and easily the most peaceful of all the four rallies ever held, an impressive milestone. Well, there were some provocateurs who tried their luck with “firecrackers” even after the rally was over but was subsequently apprehended by Bersih volunteers.
If the figures released by the organisers are to be believed, the second day of the rally had attracted more people to the carnival-like event. There were 200,000 people on the first day, while 300,000 people on the second. Although we believe there were 100,000 – 150,000 on the first day, there’s little doubt the crazy crowds on the second day was close to 300,000, if not more.
As a matter of fact, more people were seen scrambling to the rally as the hour closing in to the “Merdeka” countdown. However, since there’s no way to tell if these people were the same people who came back after taken some rest, or was actually a new set of fresh supporters, it’s hard to give an exact figure for the 34-hour rally.
Assuming 50% of participants on day-2 consist of fresh new supporters, that would bring the total of participants to 350,000 (200,000 + 50% of 300,000). It’s absolutely possible that there were tons of new participants on the second day simply because many were afraid the authorities would unleash water cannon and tear gas on the first day itself.
Hence, they had chosen a wait-and-see approach. After all, if the authorities have been trigger-happy in launching assaults at Bersih protesters during the past 3 rallies, what is so different and special about Bersih 4.0 that the police would spare their bullets? Well, they must be kicking themselves for not joining earlier because amazingly the police hadn’t fired a single tear gas.
The burning question is: why the police didn’t pick a fight with the protesters this time? Surely it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth who threatens to wear “yellow” again if Najib administration starts attacking the innocent protesters. Perhaps the theory that police attacks only when majority protesters of a rally consist of ethnic-Malay is true after all.
Otherwise, how do you explain the supposedly brutal and thuggish police didn’t attack Bersih 4.0, which was dominated by ethnic-Chinese? If this is so, then it pretty much solves the mystery about the lack of Malays’ participation, especially on the first day. On the second day, Malays’ presence increased to about 30%, from a low of 10% on the first day.
Based on some questionnaires, it seems the Malays were dead sure Bersih 4.0 would see the worst police brutality ever recorded. The fact that military chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin had declared that the armed forces will intervene if the government declares a state of emergency goes to show blood could spill on the street, at least that was the perception of the Malays.
In the past three Bersih rallies, the military didn’t involve at all. It was a poker game. Majority of the Malays blinked first and lost, hence were tricked into believing that troubles were bound to happen. The government doesn’t care if the Chinese dominates the rally but has everything to worry if Malays take the lead.
But after a peaceful and happy first day, the Malays were convinced nothing bad would happen hence they decided to join the crowd. However, it was too late to make a bigger impact because most of them had already left the city for the 3-days short holiday, or otherwise had other pre-planned programs.
Clearly, there wasn’t any plan for a state of emergency at all. It was merely a clever trick to send a simple message to the Malays to stay away from the rally. Of course, the second reason to the low Malays’ turnout was the “boycott” by PAS, which traditionally can mobilise large number of obedient supporters.
There’s little doubt that if PAS have had participated, Bersih 4.0 could easily breach the 500,000 mark. But that would also mean the biggest battle between the police and the protesters. Like it or not, PAS protesters are like walking zombies, and the police hate their guts and courage. It’s a different story altogether with obedient Chinese protesters.
But the most important reason why the Malays were not visible is because of GST. On the second day before our group hit the road again for the rally, we stopped at one of our favourite stalls selling young coconuts. We knew how torturing it was to be under the scorching sun so we decided to “armour” our bodies with coconut juice.
Dressing like minions, it wasn’t hard for the Malay “Pakcik” (uncle) to guess what we were up to. We sat and enjoyed the refreshing coconut juice at the stall, flicking our smartphone for latest news on Bersih 4.0. Then, he sat and chat with us. He complained about new competitors, signalling to two new stalls behind him, selling the same products (*grin*).
Then he went into great length bitching about how his second son has just switched to a new job because of escalating cost of living. Although the new job pays better, the location is further in Shah Alam. Suddenly, he openly criticised the present government. He boasted that he had attended all the previous Bersih rallies, together with his son, but not this round.
Reason – he has to sell more coconuts now because of GST. He claimed that the (competitors) new coconut stalls were managed by part-timers so he assumed they were trying to make ends meet because of GST too. Because of GST, he is now facing two problems – new competition and the needs to work longer hours to cover his daily expenses.
If his story is true, then it’s incorrect to assume the Malays were cowed by a stronger and united Chinese behind DAP. Perhaps, some may have been influenced by PM Najib’s “bastardization” scary story. But the story from this “pakcik” goes to show that his primary concern was about putting food on the table, than about UMNO going into toilet bowl.
The low income Malays couldn’t join Bersih 4.0 because they’re struggling with skyrocketing cost of living. The middle and high income Malays wouldn’t join the rally because they were dead sure chaos would explode. With PAS crossing over to UMNO’s side, GST and military threat, the sight of Malays taking the lead in future demonstration is over.
When the time comes for us to pay for the coconuts, there was an increase of RM0.50 per piece. When we asked, the “pakcik” smiled and said his supplier had charged him higher because of GST? Heck, isn’t coconut exempted from GST? Well, that depends on whom you ask along the supply chain. - financetwitter
BERSIH rampas Dataran Merdeka...
Himpunan Bersih 4 yang berakhir menjelang berdetingnya jam menanda 00:00 tengah malam 31 Ogos yang membawa usia kemerdekaan ke-58 tahun, tetap dikenang selamanya oleh rakyat negara ini, khasnya mereka yang menyertainya. Himpunan raksasa rakyat itu berlangsung dua hari bermula Sabtu kelmarin.
Himpunan perdana yang berlatarkan warna kedaulatan rakyat itu (kuning) juga akan ditafsir dengan berbagai tafsiran. Ia akan diterjemahkan dengan seribu makna dan erti tersendiri. Dalam terjemahan itu sudah tentu ia subjektif, pro dan kontra. Tetapi mereka yang hadir, yang melihat dengan mata lendir sendiri dan merasai getar kehangatan dan keharmonian himpunan itu, mempunyai pengertian berbeza di antara yang hadir dengan yang tidak hadir.
Mereka yang tidak hadir, atau berada di luar himpunan sepertilah orang buta yang mendengar cerita gajah tentang himpunan itu. Mereka akan membuat berbagai tafsiran dan andaian setiap kata-kata mengenai gajah itu mengikut kapasiti minda masing-masing. Apa lagi yang pesimis dengan himpunan itu akan menganggap bahawa "gajah" itu empat segi atau seperti kepala keretapi logomotif.
Demikian khlifanya orang yang enggan melihat dengan panca indera sendiri dan hanya memerhati dari jauh atau mendengar ocehan media-media PB.
Saya mengatakan sejarah, kerana Bersih 4 membawa ciri-ciri dan mengandungi maknawi dan sir tertentu yang khusus. Ada beberapa signifiken daripada himpunan selama 34 jam itu. Ia amat berbeza sekali dengan tiga himpunan Bersih, 1, 2 dan 3 sebelum ini.
Kandatipun matlamatnya tetap sama untuk menuntut pilihan raya dan demokrasi adil dan bersih ke arah terbentuknya kerajaan yang telus di negara ini. Perlu difahami himpunan itu adalah kesenimbungan kepada Bersih terdahulu. Ia diadakan kerana menuntut terlaksana beberapa tuntutan yang masih tidak terpenuhi oleh pemerintah.
Dan himpunan Bersih 4 bagi saya paling gemilang dan berjaya. Kejayaan simboliknya dengan terampasnya Dataran Merdeka yang dijadikan tapak meraikan sambutan detik 12:00 tengah malam 31 Ogos.
Apabila pihak penganjur acara tahunan itu memindakan sambutan ke Bukit Jalil, atas alasan keselamatan atau apa, ia menunjukkan Dataran Merdeka sudah ditakluki peserta Bersih. Dalam erti kata lain pemerintah mengaku kalah untuk tidak bertewas kekuatan dengan himpunan Bersih itu.
Bersih 4, tidak akan tertitik nokhtah menjelang tengah malam malam tadi. Ia akan tetap bersambung dan muncul apabila diperlukan. Peserta Bersih akan pulang ke kampung halaman, tetapi mereka tetap akan datang kembali bila dikerah dan dipanggil tanpa dipunggah.
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