The police, no doubt, demonstrated their abilities at crowd-control at the Bersih5 rally. They kept both asides apart and maintained peace and order. But, what did they prove by making all those arrests prior to the rally?
These were the same people who led Bersih4 and they weren’t arrested then. What was different this time that they got arrested? Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, of course. This time around he and his supporters were on the side of Bersih. With the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak out of the country (at Apec meetings), and Bersih not backing down despite the red shirts’ scare tactics, the police might have thought the best thing to do to avoid a head-on clash between Bersih and the red shirts was to arrest the leaders. Besides, Dr M was away (at a meeting in Sudan), which meant the police had a good reason not to arrest Dr M. Arrest Bersih chairman Maria Chin, instead, to show she was a threat to national security, and, hence her 28-day remand under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
But, there was no clash. So, did the police make the decision to arrest based on accurate intelligence on the feelings on the ground or were they playing politics? If the latter, is it their business to do that?
I sometimes wonder if the authorities do all these things they do to protect themselves and their side at the expense of others simply to deflect discussion on the real issues.The fear was that Dr M would draw many Malays out on to the streets and this would lead to the toppling of the government, which, really is an unfounded fear. Bersih5 and Dr M are seeking for the resignation of the PM. If a show of Malay turnout had led to Najib’s removal, it wouldn’t have toppled the government. The deputy prime minister from the same coalition will take over. There will be no overthrow of government; only Najib may have to go. As it turned out, there was no huge turnout of Malays and no clash with red shirts. and the authorities now have to explain why they took such extreme action.
Such extreme police action, Chin’s remand and the direction the country is taking should be discussed in Parliament. Such discussions are often derailed by some absurd, irrelevant statement or an issue that scares MPs, like hudud. Consider a deputy minister’s tasteless reference to a woman MP’s surname. It dominated the news and discussion. This was immediately followed by PAS presidents Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Members’ Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 being brought forward for discussion. The attention was now deflected to Hadi’s bill. A day later, however, Hadi deferred the debate on the Bill to the next Dewan Rakyat session next year.
The Bill seeks to increase the maximum punishment the syariah courts can give. When it was first announced there was a loud “no” to it. A day later, some parties are now considering it, following assurances that it is not hudud. Whether hudud or not, it succeeded in drawing attention away from the real issues facing the country.
To me, all these police action and introduction of Hadi’s Bill are plain filibustering to prevent any real discussion that will expose the true state of the government and leadership. I hope the opposition will wise up to the strategies of the incumbent government and not play into their hands.
My feeling is that with every action the authorities take to cover their tracks, more will withdraw support for the BN government.Already, in Sabah, many are switching to the opposition. In Sarawak, despite all the incentives they got before the state election, the state has now declared a deficit budget, due to dropping oil prices, they say. Surely, Sarawakians are going to ask why?
It will only be a matter of time, before the government does something that will blow up in their face. Nobody needs to do anything more — except what is necessary. It’s human nature. You dig your own grave when you fail to listen to good advice. When that happens, I believe, there would be a major swing of bumiputra votes from the Malays and East Malaysians to the opposition because they will finally realise that their future is with the opposition. That’s when Najib will realise the futility of hanging on. I hope he will then call for elections at the soonest date possible.