APRIL 28 – Bersih 3.0 is over, cut short by teargas and water cannons raining on those converging at Dataran Merdeka today. Thousands of Malaysians surrounded the square patch of grass, once known for its cricket, but now garlanded by barbed wires, fencing, plastic barriers and guarded by riot police and policemen.
It was supposed to be a peaceful sit-in, and for hours, it was. Until some people apparently went through the barricades of a public square barred to the public. The riot police snapped to action and plumes of teargas wafted through the air and streams of jet from water cannons rained on the people. And mayhem ensued.
Now, who do we blame for this? The authorities for not learning the lessons of Bersih 2.0? Bersih people for being hijacked by politicians? Who else can we blame?
The authorities have made up their minds about this. From yesterday, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein briefed mainstream media editors and told them the government had done its best to have a peaceful rally.
They offered Stadium Merdeka, the venue that was denied to Bersih 2.0.
The Home Minister warned that the police would have to guarantee security if things went out of hand, saying that there were politicians out to hijack the movement. This was after the police got court order that turned every Malaysian a persona non grata at Dataran Merdeka, where the British Union Jack was lowered down for the last time on our soil in 1957.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman told the same story to the foreign press yesterday. That the government had bent over backwards but the Bersih organisers were obstinate. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the same thing today too in Kuching, far away from Ground Zero in Dataran Merdeka. Funny, there were no untoward incidents in other cities in Malaysia or across the world.
Only in Dataran Merdeka. Where pandemonium broke out. Where Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and a host of other Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders turned up. So, naturally, they get the blame.
Of course, the mainstream media has picked on this and have blamed these political leaders for what happened around Dataran Merdeka today. It is easy and convenient to say that they were behind the chaos. Simple mathematics really, a huge crowd facing rows of policemen under the hot sun plus opposition politicians and what do you get? Chaos.
Except, the riot police didn’t really have to fire teargas and water cannons repeatedly and chase people until 7pm. The authorities didn’t have to put up roadblocks or stop LRT trains from taking or dropping passengers at the several LRT stations in the vicinity.
It was a peaceful assembly outside the zone barred by law. The crowd was young and old, from all walks of life. They wanted to show they cared for a clean and fair election that would benefit everyone, especially the politicians.
However, the police decided otherwise. They decided to rain on the people’s parade and conveniently, the establishment can blame Anwar for it. As easy as that.
But they will have to account for the streams of Instagrams, Facebook photographs and videos uploaded since this morning to reinforce their innocence or guilt. The people know better.
We know who to blame for today's mayhem. We know who to vote for in the next general election. The ones who stopped us from sitting down, the ones who sprayed gas and water at us because we cared for Malaysia’s future won’t get our vote but our eternal damnation.
So go on and blame Anwar and the rest. We know better.
* Muhammad Farouk reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.