COMMENT With well over 100,000 people gathering last week for electoral reform in the largest street protest in the nation's history - and the event marred by violence by both state and non-state actors alike - Malaysian politics has reached an important impasse.
The Bersih 3.0 rally and its aftermath reveal that the path ahead for Malaysian politics will grow even more contentious and complex. As the different ‘Bersih stories' pour in, ranging from ‘ordinary' heroism to the darker accounts of beatings and abuse of power, the move of Malaysian politics outside of the realm of elite to the streets and social media is both empowering and scary.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's decision not to accommodate the concerns of the protesters last week, and even to demonise their actions, now prods Malaysia further along the road to its day of destiny, where the political fate of Malaysia's 54-year government will be determined. So far, the routes chosen are one of confrontation rather than compromise, making resolution to differences even more difficult.
Before the rally, I argued that four actors would shape politics around Bersih 3.0 - the youth, the middle class, the police and East Malaysians. Of these, three were decisive on rally day itself (the latter will grow more so as elections approach)...