Pak Samad sees government plot to ‘demonise’ Bersih 2.0
KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Datuk A. Samad Said alleged today the existence of a planned conspiracy to demonise Bersih 2.0 as a movement to topple the government, as claimed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak shortly after the group held its April 28 sit-in.
The national literary icon and Bersih 2.0 co-chairman denied the allegation and added: “If we want to topple the government, we want to do it through a clean election”.
He complained that since the sit-in last month, Bersih 2.0 has been forced to defend itself repeatedly in the media against accusations that the group’s key objective was not to push for electoral reforms but to help the opposition’s campaign to topple Barisan Nasional (BN) in Putrajaya.
“Bersih 2.0 has been assaulted since then (April 28), day after day, and we have had to defend ourselves, day after day.
“It seems this is an organised and planned move to demonise Bersih 2.0, which is really a movement to demand clean and fair elections,” the white-bearded poet told a press conference here.
Samad said, however, it was futile for Bersih 2.0 to seek a meeting with government leaders to explain its true objectives as the bulk of the allegations had come from the government.
“What’s the point? They are the ones who keep slandering us, repeatedly claiming that Bersih 2.0 wants to topple the government.
“And what is worse is that they continue to do this because the mainstream media is on their side,” he said.
Apart from Najib, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and three former top policemen have also come out to claim that Bersih 2.0’s plans was to oust the present government.
Among the three former police officers was Tun Hanif Omar, who was later appointed by the government to head its six-man independent panel tasked to investigate the violent clashes during the sit-in.
Samad, popularly known as “Pak Samad”, also condemned the alleged harassment against his Bersih 2.0 co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who has been at the receiving end of most criticisms and attacks aimed at the polls watchdog.
Apart from the “burger protest”, a group of former servicemen had also conducted “bum exercises” outside the former Bar Council president’s home, claiming their actions were to defend the country from a national security threat like the the Bersih 2.0 movement.
“It pains me to witness the despicable harassment committed against her, my fellow Bersih co-chairman, and fellow Malaysian.
“She is someone who has dedicated years of her life to the advancement of human rights and the betterment of our society,” he said.
Pak Samad added that despite the alleged harassment, Ambiga has been handling the situation with “dignity and grace”.
He appealed to all Bersih 2.0 detractors to exercise restraint and maturity, and urged the government to condemn the persecution.
“By staying silent and not taking action, the government has condoned dirty and low behaviour,” he said.
The Bersih 3.0 sit-in on April 28 had resulted in chaos shortly before 3pm that day when police launched volleys of tear gas canisters and chemical-laced water to disperse protesters after a few breached the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka.
The historic square had been earlier cordoned off to protesters following a court order obtained by the police.
The polls group held two similar rallies in 2007 and last year, both of which had also resulted in a stand-off between the police and demonstrators.