Still a deadlock — Lim Sue Goan
APRIL 27 — Tomorrow’s attendance will be key in determining whether the Bersih 3.0 rally brings the desired political effects.
It cannot be considered as successful, if the number of participants is fewer than 50,000 people — the number of attendees of the Bersih 2.0 rally — because the rally this time will also combine the forces of the Himpunan Hijau 3.0 and other organisations.
About 40,000 people attended the Bersih 1.0 rally on November 10, 2007, and the number of participants for the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 last year increased by 10,000 people, even after the police had sealed the city. It showed that the Bersih has enhanced its capacity to mobilise.
This year, about 30,000 people attended the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 on February 26 in Kuantan. Some supporters might have attended both the rallies, but the two organisations should be able to call for more than 70,000 people this time.
Moreover, the appeal against environmental pollution is powerful. More and more non-governmental organisations, Chinese groups, religious groups and other related groups, such as the 86 Chinese groups Johor Baru, have responded to the protest against the rare-earth refinery plant. Therefore, we might see more middle-aged men on April 28.
In addition, the movement to defend Jalan Sultan and organisations opposing Petronas’s Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) complex in Pengerang, Johor would join the rally. Rapat (Rakan Pakatan Rakyat), formed by 20 Indian NGO’s, also promised to mobilise 10,000 people for the Bersih 3.0 rally. Last year, Malaysians in 32 cities around the world held rallies in the name of Bersih 2.0, and this year, rallies will be held simultaneously in 11 local cities, 29 countries and 72 cities worldwide.
Of course, there is also support from Pakatan Rakyat members and supporters.
It is believed that the Bersih 3.0 rally would carry greater momentum compared to the Bersih 2.0 rally. If the number of participants hits 100,000, it would put pressure on Barisan Nasional, and if the colour yellow fills the globe, it will raise concern of the international community.
The organiser insists to hold the rally at the Dataran Merdeka, with the hope to create a greater visual shock and trigger huge political impact, so that they could achieve their objective to demand electoral reform before the next general election. If they miss the opportunity this time, they might have to wait for a long time.
Similarly, the Himpunan Hijau organiser has its own concerns. If it fails to combine the power of civil society this time, it would lose its chance to expel Lynas from Malaysia.
The rally organisers have their concerns, so do the authorities. In addition to the worry that the rally might be too massive, there are also concerns about safety and the Occupy Dataran movement.
After the announcement to hold the rally on April 28 was made, a group of undergraduates, social activists and freelancers camped at the Dataran Merdeka. They refuse to leave even the City Hall’s enforcement officers evicted them and confiscated their tents. They have occupied the place for 13 days.
If DBKL allows them to enter Dataran Merdeka with participants of the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, would there be more people who will take advantage to occupy the place?
The Dataran Merdeka is a tourist spot, as well as a landmark of the capital. It is an eyesore to have people camping there.
There should be mutual concessions in democracy. Since the Bersih 3.0 and Himpunan Hijau 3.0 wish only to have a sit-in at the Dataran Merdeka, the three parties could actually negotiate it and shorten the time from two hours to 30 minutes to facilitate the police, while achieving the purpose of the rally.
However, would the law enforcement units soften their attitude? Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak conveyed a certain message at the 16th National Silat Championship on April 25. Let’s wait and see how it goes! — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.