Side Views

One peaceful assembly after another — Lim Sue Goan

MARCH 20 — The peaceful assembly to protest against shortage of teachers in Chinese schools scheduled to be held on March 25, the Himpunan Hijau 3.0 to be held on 13 April, the rally fighting for the Native Customary Right (NCR) in Sabah, as well as the possible Bersih 3.0 and rallies defending Jalan Sultan seem to have bordered Barisan Nasional members, who are busy getting prepared for the next general election.

BN is eager to put out the fire. Therefore, a special committee was set up to address the shortage of teachers in Chinese schools, while a parliamentary select committee (PSC) is also being formed to help the people understand the rare earth refinery plant project.

However, Pakatan Rakyat does not want the fire to be put out, while various non-governmental organisations (NGO) with their respective agenda have their own calculations, further complicating the situation.

BN component parties do not participate in any assemblies due to political considerations, leaving room for Pakatan Rakyat to take advantage. Pakatan Rakyat has been gaining momentum from the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally, the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 to the protest scheduled on 25 March.

It is expected that Pakatan Rakyat and NGOs will strengthen propaganda efforts among the grassroots and on the Internet, making sure that BN tastes the bitterness.

Take the protest scheduled on March 25 as an example; many Chinese groups have planned to charter buses to the protest venue to show their support. The attendance would certainly exceed the expected number.

In history, the United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) has never let go of chances to impose political pressure on the authority to fight for fair treatment for Chinese education.

On the eve of the 1982 general election, the Dong Jiao Zong proposed three integration ideas. Datuk Seri Kerk Choo Ting, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, Ong Tin Kim, Datuk Dr Kang Chin Seng and other Chinese education activists tried to break into BN to correct the ruling coalition.

In the 1990 general election, former Dong Zong chairman Lim Fong Sheng led 27 Chinese education activists to join the DAP, trying to take advantage of the split within BN to create a two-party system.

On the eve of the 1999 general election, Dong Jiao Zong and over 2,000 Chinese groups made appeals for the general election.

The consequences of these actions are obvious. This time, Dong Zong hopes to solve the teacher shortage problem that has troubled them for a few decades.

We will never know the effects without trying. We leave it to history to rate the gains and losses, as well as the merits and demerits.

As for the Himpunan Hijau 3.0, Solidariti Semalaysia Stop Lynas will call on the participation of the Malays to try breaking the influence of Umno in the community.

Since the Malays do not have anti-rare earth sentiments, BN is not worried that the rare earth refinery plant issue would ferment in the Bumiputera community. However, if the anti-rare earth organisation is able to break through to the group, Umno would then be in a trouble.

In view of the totally different stands, it is very likely to result in a rupture. And ballots would be the ultimate approach to decide the fate of the rare earth refinery.

How should Chinese groups respond to the counterbalance between politics and the civil society? The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) and other Chinese groups have formed the Lynas rare earth refinery watchdog committee with the MCA. If members of the public continue to oppose to the plant, would they withdraw from the committee?

The 2008 general election has clearly drawn a line between two camps. The Hua Zong has inevitably involved in the whirlpool and caught in troubles.

Regardless of whether the next general election will be held in June or not, the rallies and storms will, for sure, never stop. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.


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