Side Views

PM should attend Bersih 3.0 — Hsu Dar Ren

APRIL 10 — Bersih 3.0 and the anti-Lynas movement are joining hands to organise a big gathering to protest against slow electoral reforms as well as the Lynas issue.

It will be held on April 28.

Many who missed the first two Bersih marches are expected to come out and join this rally, which the organisers intend to hold in Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.

So far, police has not given any indications whether they would allow this peaceful gathering to proceed.

After Bersih 2.0, with the election so near, it would be foolish on the part of the authorities to suppress the rally. I have written an article on the mishandling of Bersih 2. Similarly, if there is use of force, Bersih 3.0 may become the downfall of Barisan Nasional.

In my opinion, Bersih 3.0 should not only be allowed, but the PM should do something out of the box.

What should the PM do? He should learn from Zhao Ziyang and how he handled the peaceful gathering in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during what was known as the “June 4 incident”.

Zhao went to the square a few times and talked to the students gathered there. He actually sympathised with them and he vehemently opposed the use of force during the politburo meetings. Unfortunately for him, the time was not ripe for his type of engagement politics and those who were eyeing for his position joined hands and convinced Deng Xiao Peng to act against Zhao, resulting in the downfall of Zhao and his house arrest until he died many years later.

Zhao has however remained one of the most beloved figures in the hearts of the people. I am sure in later years his position would be reviewed and that he would regain his rightful place in the history of China.

Najib should not fear he would end up like Zhao. The world is very different now. Had there been gatherings like the June 4 incident now anywhere in the world, I am quite sure that Zhao’s way would be the best to blunt the initiative of the gathering and gain the support of the people.

Najib should not only allow the April 28 gathering to proceed, he should in my humble opinion go to Dataran Merdeka and engage those who are protesting there. He can bring his bodyguards, he can have truckloads of police on standby.

His mere presence and promise to personally take charge of the electoral reform, and promise to stop the Lynas project in Malaysia during such an engagement would gain him the initiative over the opposition.

He would have endeared himself to civil society, and at the same time gain the upper hand in the intra-party struggle.

If I were him I would do just that, since there is really nothing much to lose (taking account of his present weak position in his party) and everything to gain by doing so.

* Dr Hsu Dar Ren reads The Malaysian Insider.

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


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