Bersih 2.0 Rally - Hoodwinked by the Government
So the Bersih rally came and went on Saturday, 9th July. Well, not exactly. There was no peaceful demonstration in a stadium as was initially promised by the government. Instead, the police ended up arresting about 1500 protesters who just wanted to demonstrate peacefully. The organizers had originally intended to have a street demonstration, but at the urging of the ruling party and Malaysia’s head monarch, they agreed to have it at a stadium instead.
Despite this mutual agreement, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government did not issue a permit for Bersih to have the rally at the stadium. Reason given was it would take 2-3 weeks as per the standard operating procedure to issue one. Now here’s the thing, the government knows that this is a sensitive and potentially explosive issue. And, since the King himself gave his blessing to have the rally at the stadium, why couldn’t the permit have been expedited? Despite this, Bersih was still adamant on having the demonstration as was allowed by the King.
A few days before the rally, there were roadblocks all over the city to detain protesters and discourage the public from attending the rally. On the day of the rally itself, the entire city of Kuala Lumpur was on lockdown. Protesters who wanted to reach the stadium were unable to do so. Instead, many of them were arrested even without provocation. There were many reports of protesters being abused by the police.
The BN government has made a serious PR blunder by denying the protesters a platform for their demonstration. Now they are seen by not only Malaysians, but the world, as a more oppressive regime. Congratulations, BN! You’ve shot yourself in the foot.