|Sunday Star 29 April 2012|
But who were really responsible for causing the chaos?
Were the authorities themselves not responsible when the police fired tear gas and water cannons at the participants? After all, it was not as if the participants were charging at the police or trying to harm anybody.
They were only trying to gain access to the Dataran Merdeka which is after all, a public square that the people have the right of access to.
In fact, some are now saying that the whole fracas was started by a group of agent provocateurs planted among the participants to try to blame the organisers and make them look bad. I have no way of knowing whether this is true or not, but I won't be surprised if it was. After all, anything can happen in bolehland.
In fact, the authorities were the ones who were confrontational in the very first place when they refused the organisers the use of Dataran Merdeka for their proposed peaceful sit-in when there really was no
reason why the organisers' request should be turned down.
They even went to the extent of obtaining a court order barring access to the ground and locking down the place! Their offer of alternative venues to the organisers at the penultimate moment was just insincere.
And the incident where a small group of people attacked a police vehicle that had ploughed into a crowd though not justified, was understandable under the circumstances.
But all that Najib could do to respond to the Bersih 3.0 rally was to say that if the opposition could do Bersih1, 2 and 3, he could do also BR1M 1, 2 and 3. (BR1M refers to the one-off payout of Rm500 recently given out to householders earning Rm3000 or less)
That was the silly response that Najib, who is known for his grandstanding and nothing much else (oops, sorry, there is something else that the PM is known for and that is, flip-flopping on his policies and words), could come up with and nobody is really surprised.
By the way, Najib conveniently forgot that the Bersih 3.0 rally was NOT an opposition event.
The rally was organised by a coalition of some 81 NGOs concerned about the state of the Malaysian electoral roll and process.
The opposition were invited to be part of the rally calling for electoral reforms and for free and fair elections, so too were the Barisan coalition which Najib helms, INVITED to join in too.