Tomorrow, we will know if the red shirts will hold another protest march at Petaling Street, centre of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Or whether the police would be able to stop them.
There will always be people like the red shirts. Belligerent fear-mongers who impose their beliefs by intimidation. Should they be allowed to express themselves?
Because I believe in free speech, they are free to protest even if only to intimidate in Mat Rempit thuggish style. The more important question, however, isn’t if red shirts should be allowed to roll around like a loose cannon. The more important question is whether we have public institutions like the police and the armed forces which are impartial and capable and will facilitate protests by whoever and control crowds that turn into violent mobs without irreparable damage to public peace and security.
If the red shirts march out tomorrow, it will test the police’s ability to control ugly dissidence before it turns into a riot. If they fail, then our institutions have failed us and that is a bigger problem than a bunch of disgruntled Umno members taking to the streets to ventilate.
It is the responsibility of the political party to rein in its bellicose members. If the top leadership is unable to control its members, then, that leadership has lost control of the party. If that party is the leading member of a coalition that governs the country, and its leaders become the top leaders in government, and, if under their watch, they can’t stop dissent in their party ranks from spilling over to the public domain and threatening public peace and racial harmony, that means that the top leadership has lost control of running the country.
The undue distress will be on the police to ensure peace. Bouquets to them. But, no bouquets to Umno, the leading party in the Barisan Nasional-led government, whose members are creating national strife through their mischief while, at least, up to the time of this post, the leaders have kept silent about it.
Surely, Malaysians can see that public peace and security are being risked by politicians pandering to keep whatever support they can? Isn’t it time to put a stop to such self-serving politics?