Government’s unhealthy obsession over Bersih
JUNE 28 — There are times when I honestly think that the law protecting what our honourable MPs say in Parliament is the most abused law in Malaysia. And honestly, the MP for Sri Gading made it so when he issued a death threat against former Bar Council chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan just a few days back in Parliament.
Had he said it out in the open, the cowardly lion of an MP would have had at least one police report filed against him. But, of course, he chose to do so in Parliament. Cunning, yes, but cowardly.
The truth is that our government is reaching a paramount level of both idiocy and paranoia in dealing with the Bersih movement. It was clearly idiotic when they chose a person who said the Bersih rally was influenced by communists to head a commission to study violent acts during the recent protest.
Then you had a party president, Kayveas of the PPP, who went missing for close to two years, suddenly appearing out of nowhere to state that the Bersih protesters were paid and were mostly children.
He also insinuated that women who went for manicures won’t vote in order to avoid getting their nails dirty with indelible ink.
At this point, I’m wondering if Taiping is selling absinthe to justify the level of stupidity in this former MP.
Let me just ask this. Why is the government doing all these stupid acts in order to repress a movement that benefits the nation?
And it is a movement beneficial to the nation because it is one calling and pushing the citizenry to be aware of the problems which are mostly due to the lack of reforms in the electoral process under the purview of the Election Commission and, thus, under the Home Ministry.
Bersih’s point was made even clearer when recently a written answer to an opposition MP for once refused to mention the number of voters registered by political parties. To put things in perspective, we have had both the EC and government ministers beforehand, for a few months running, openly announcing the numbers without any blackout until now.
Considering that trust in the government has yet to be polled of late, even if we were to presume neutrality here, it’s still rather conspicuous that the government refuses to let the figures out.
And then, there was the dragging out and detention of a UM student by the police over a Bersih T-shirt being worn at an event where the PM was present. Not to mention the sudden insistence on censuring diplomats from Singapore who observed the protest and the libellous acts of a national newspaper against an Australian MP who took part in the protest.
Does the government’s political factions fail to understand that the Bersih movement has reached a level of international renown that they cannot simply use slander, libel, dumb counter protests and even death threats to counter it?
At this point in time, these obsessive compulsive moves by the government and its supporters are merely doing more harm than good. It will not win the government votes because there is no longer a monopoly on communication channels or the spin of a story. And unlike the White House press secretary, whoever is handling the current Malaysian administration’s press briefings, if any, has no credibility.
In fact, it’s safe to say that certain groups would say the same for our own prime minister and his Cabinet. The lacking in trust and credibility, along with this continuing obsession over Bersih instead of focusing on the issues of rising cost and the preparation for a euro economic collapse, is akin to trying to fry an ant with a magnifying glass while a tsunami is approaching.
Now while I am a supporter of the objectives that Bersih has clearly outlined, I am not one to support it blindly to the point of not noticing the faults that occur during their protests, nor do I agree with certain resignations and constant attacks against non-supporters.
However, for a government that wishes to appear moderate, the prime minister and his loudmouth, insensitive and sometimes truly dumb panel of backbenchers need to move on.
If anything, it is rather clear that the government backbenchers have yet to learn their lesson from their loss in 2008. Either that, or they are truly afraid now of what might occur in 2012/2013.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.