Bersih 4 a significant moment in our history

Stephen Ng

Modified 31 Aug 2015, 1:49 pm

COMMENT Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak either has forgotten his number of zeroes when estimating the Bersih 4 crowd at 20,000, or he simply tried to downplay it by quoting a figure that everyone knows is “stupid”.

As Noor Farida Ariffin, coordinator of the Group of 25 (G25) eminent Malay civil servants, put it, “some people” would be worried that more Malays decided to turn up on the second day of Bersih 4.

This was the result of the ‘demonisation’ of Bersih 4 by the mainstream media, with some like the weekend version of Utusan Melayu, Mingguan Malaysia, calling it a ‘DAP-controlled demonstration’ .

Credit to DAP, I have never even thought that DAP could organise such a mammoth rally unhindered, but it is obvious that the Umno mouthpiece was afraid that the rakyat have indeed awakened to the country’s current social, political and economic woes caused by one man and his team.

Even the senior pastor of a church that I visited on Sunday asked his congregation, “Were you all at Bersih 4 yesterday?” Saying it was a personal choice, he urged those members of his church who were still mulling over whether to go to Bersih 4, to make it before the rally was over.

For the first time, he said that his church choir sang the patriotic song, ‘Sejahtera Malaysia’. I made him to promise that he would publish it soon on YouTube. “It is as though the church is suddenly awakened to everything we see happening,” he told his congregation.

Although he mentioned nothing about Najib, he appears to echo the words of Noor Farida who wrote in her Whatsapp: “Most thinking Malaysians are fed up with Najib and his men. He tried to play down Bersih 4, but eventually he cannot remain in self-denial. With the huge turnout at Bersih 4, the people have indeed spoken!”

According to Noor Farida, the turnout last night was a multiracial crowd. “The Malays turned up in droves,” she said. “All the pakciks, makciks and their families enjoying themselves. Great carnival atmosphere. So happy to be part of it! (Ironically) Najib has succeeded in uniting the races!”

The VIPs

This time around even Dr Mahathir Mohamad ( photo ) was on the streets with the Bersih people. Some called him a ‘fox’, but this is perhaps what old age has done for the former prime minister. I believe it is more like having a good wife who could finally ‘knock’ (used in a polite and teasingly manner) some sense into the nonagenarian.

Hopefully, by now, Dr Mahathir realises that the use of the iron fist during Operation Lallang will only work when people are ignorant, but the repercussions can only be great when the people are awakened.

No one will be able to stop the tides that decide to return with a big backlash at night when the moon is up.

(Incidentally, not a single regime that had used the iron fist has survived, except those that uphold justice and equality. Many of those who use threats of arrest eventually lose their credibility to lead the country and end up being in jail themselves.)

In my opinion, Dr Mahathir only starts to listen to his wife in recent years that you cannot always do things your own way. They say, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.”

What a stark contrast we see in Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali who, with no Birkin bags but demonstrating great wisdom, when she spoke and urged the people to unite as one nation , the people listened.

This time around, there were a lot of very important people (VIPs) present, but strangely, it is more of the women who had sufficient courage to come out. As mentioned in my earlier article, it was also the ‘Puan Sris’ who were talking about going down for Bersih 4.

The leaders of Bersih 3 and 4 were conspicuously women as well. I wonder where were the men? It is time that we see the men come out of hiding and join the rest of us who were willing to make a public statement of our stand against corruption and money politics. We want clean and fair elections.

The grand-daughter of Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Munawirah Putra, who is also a G25 member, was also at the Bersih 4 rally. Others included former Bank Negara assistant governor Latifah Merican Cheong and a number of other G25 members.

Patriotic Bersih

When the clock struck twelve midnight last night, the national anthem was sung by thousands of Bersih supporters.

This was such a big contrast to previous Bersih rallies, where the government appeared to be ‘at war’ with the people.

Bersih 4 rally-goers know how to differentiate between patriotism towards the Agong and the country.

Najib’s office is only created by the federal constitution based on the people’s support, and when he no longer enjoys the people’s confidence, he should step down gracefully and allow an interim government to take over.

If he thinks that the rest of the country supports him, someone has to better wake him up. With 200,000 activists, it only takes 27 days to tell five other people every day within less than a month, and everyone in the country will know how to vote for a better Malaysia. This is just based on some basic arithmetic.

And if Ahmad Zahid Hamidi thinks that he can arrest 200,000 activists for wearing Bersih 4 T-shirts, if we all decide to do a Bersih spring in every city, I think he will be Umno’s tipping point. This is not a revolution, but sense overtaking the nonsensical statements that our politicians continue to spew out by the day.

I have a better a suggestion to the Barisan Nasional government. Provide the allocations every year, and let Bersih organisers do the job for you because they are able to draw more people to their streets of Kuala Lumpur than any government agencies, and the KL Bersih 4 rally is a good example.

My suggestions

The truth is that Bersih has had a strong following over the past decade. Leaders groom up people who can take over.

Last weekend’s Bersih 4 rally was one of the most successful ones in terms of how both the police and the volunteers managed the crowd of easily over 300,000 throughout the 34 hours of what I call ‘street celebration’ of people power.

As I have always said, leave the police to manage the entire situation, and things will turn out fine; things could only go awry when politicians have a hand in it.

The police have a lot of experience in managing mammoth rallies like this. After all, the people who turned up at the rally are people like you and me.

The police arrested only the one or two troublemakers, but decided to allow the rally to go on. We should all personally call up the local police station and thank the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) for a great job!

Yes, as rakyat, we may defy certain rules drawn up by politicians, such as the yellow Bersih 4 T-shirts, but we are non-violent citizens of this country. Blame it on those with plenty of money to splash and with self-interest, it is only when paid agent provocateurs are planted within the crowd that the people suffer at the hands of the authorities.

Bersih’s theme has always been clean and fair elections. However, to push for clean and fair elections in the country, the movement realised that it should also deal with corrupt leaders first. These leaders cannot remain in power if they are found to be corrupt.

Last weekend’s rally of the people was historic. To preserve this part of our country’s history, a new government put in place should acknowledge the people’s power. Nothing shakes this nation until the people are willing to stand up for their rights.

The celebration mood that we saw in Bersih 4 should not be forgotten by generations of Malaysians to come.

We should turn the streets of Kuala Lumpur into one big festivity every year with everyone wearing yellow. Whatever the colour of the skin, as a banner put it, we all have the same colour of blood. On Bersih celebration every year, we should all yellow. We can have something similar to Moomba Fair in Melbourne, perhaps, on Sept 16 every year.

With the network of Bersih coordinators across the world, I am sure Bersih can do a great job to complement Tourism Malaysia’s task in attracting more tourists from around the world to visit Malaysia.

They will be a great mouthpiece for Malaysia, this land that we all belong to, whether I am a third generation Malaysian (by virtue of my great grandfather who first arrived in Malaya at the same time as Tan Cheng Lock) or early generation Malaysian like Zahid.

Malaysia for all, and all for Malaysia! This is Salam Bersih to all my fellow Malaysians from one who attended the rally on Saturday from 11am through 4.30pm. Keep up the spirit and Happy Merdeka!

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

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