Unpredictable — Pook Ah Lek
SEPT 3 — The curtain has fallen on the 34-hour Bersih 4.0 rally.
The taut nerves we had could finally find some much needed relief.
On August 25, home ministry labeled the pre-Merdeka rally as illegal gathering. Both the police and city hall warned the public not to camp out in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka and DBKL plaza. The city hall said it would take down any tent illegally set up in the city while the police threatened actions against rally goers under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
August 27, MCMC said it would block pro-rally websites, and indeed it did as it had said. Bersih 2.0 official website was the first to be taken offline.
August 28, hours from the start of the mammoth rally, the home ministry decreed that all T-shirts, publications, etc bearing the words “Bersih 4” were banned with immediate effect.
Bersih 4.0 was the single event seeing the largest contingent of journalists deployed to the heart of the event ever by Sin Chew Daily: a total of 34 reporters and 19 photojournalists, not to mention the fact that all reporting chiefs were brought back to the office as we strived to present to our readers the most objective and unbiased news reports.
Before we set off for Dataran Merdeka, our frontline colleagues had got themselves adequately prepared for any untoward incident: face masks, mineral water, salt, broadband, jackets, anything that might be needed just in case something unpleasant and unexpected popped up.
A picture tells a thousand words. Images of the rally scene taken with drone-mounted cameras showed a sea of yellow in downtown KL. On day one, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said 200,000 turned up for the event although the police put the estimate far lower at 25,000.
In her closing speech, Maria Chin provided a new figure: About half a million had taken to the streets throughout the two days of rally.
The police barricaded Dataran Merdeka to keep the protestors at bay. Outside the square, rally participants demonstrated a very high degree of discipline and self restraint while the police on duty were seen monitoring the situation, both sides trying to reach out to each other at times.
We decided to sum up our observations near Dataran on day one as “Peaceful and placid rally by yellow-clad protestors” to don our front page headline.
The number of people at the rally showed no signs of subsiding on day two, with the government planning official countdown celebration and the PM’s Merdeka Day address to be delivered at KLCC convention center later that evening.
Merdeka Day is a day all Malaysians celebrate in joy. We all have our dreams, but one that we all have in common is that the country will get better and better.
So after some thoughtful deliberation, we at the editorial office decided on “Building a common dream for a better Malaysia” as our cover headline for Merdeka Day.
At such an advanced age, 90-year-old former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir made two unexpected appearances during the rally to show his support for the rakyat who had assembled in downtown KL to push for Najib’s resignation. For the sake of a common goal, the opposition and unaffiliated rally goers chose to forget, or even forgive the one who first led the nation off-track.
After all the excitement, people began to contest why the yellow-men in the streets of KL over the weekend were predominantly Chinese. Malay dailies alleged that the rally was masterminded by the Chinese who were unpatriotic to storm the streets of KL on the eve of Merdeka anniversary.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, opined that the rally failed to draw a significant crowd of Malay participants because of the limited impact of the political donation scandal on the Malay society.
Former DAP vice president Tunku Abdul Aziz was even more straightforward. He said it was a show of force by Chinese Malaysians to choose to protest on Merdeka eve, and that this had poked a sensitive nerve in the Malay community.
To be honest, even as the rally has come to a close, we still can’t tell how far-reaching the effects are on Malaysian politics.
The aftermath remains unpredictable.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of UPP Padungan
Source: The Malaymail Onlinehttp://upppadungan.org.my/2015/09/03/unpredictable-pook-ah-lek/Focus