With the declared non-participation of PAS in the coming BERSIH 4 street demonstration, chances are the demonstration will be dominated by one particular race. Nothing wrong with that especially if what is being championed is not sectarian as to invoke racial sentiments.
In fact there will be a number of Malay demonstrators who will be there to show their annoyance and anger at the person of the Prime Minister Najib Razak for not being responsive to the call for his resignation as the PM. Nothing wrong with that too.
But there are two elephants in the room that cannot be ignored. First, most of the demonstrators will also carry the sentiment that the present crisis is the result of Malay stupidity, corruptibility, and political bullying. Second, among the Malay demonstrators is the sentiment that a particular political party is unbecoming to be a ruling party. Both are perceptions, but street demonstrations thrive on that.
These two sentiments are more than calling for Najib to step down. The former invoke racial hatred and the latter brings politics to beyond political ceramahs, written discourse, and the ballot-box. To bring these two highly inflammable sentiments to street-level is a game that two can play because obviously these are not 100-0 or even 80-20 propositions.
There will be anti-Najib people who will stay away because they do not see it necessary for them to side with certain forces in the demonstration. Still, they will be watching intently. But the moment it spills over to beyond that call, they will instinctively react. And in these times of instantaneous communications, the organisers of the demonstration must be able to ensure that doesn’t happen.
After all, the innocent-looking celebrations of post-1969 general elections spilled over to an orgy of defiance and hatred to include baring buttocks at the MARA building and chanting of Chinese obscenities were not looked upon too kindly by the Malays. The organiser this time is aware of these possibilities. It is upon their shoulders that hangs the undesirable possible consequences.
The RM2 million collected, and the instantaneous sale of 35,000 T-shirts, are not merely signs of how popular the demonstration is. It is also an indication of how well-off the supporters are. And we know where that come from. And the people who have to do the organiser’s difficult job of maintaining sanity are the Police, and they are mostly Malays. Potent combination.
So as one of the ways to avoid these wild actions is by limiting the aim of the demonstration to just about Najib. So the lily-white proponents of that call must also be there. Dr. Mahathir’s, his son Mukhriz’s, Daim Zainuddin’s, Muhyiddin Yassin’s, Shafie Afdal’s, etc., presence will underscore the intent of the demonstration.
BERSIH is no longer a bi-partisan movement and not just about electoral fairness anymore, so they can act like the opposition and use it accordingly. Maybe ten million people will turn up if they do. I mean they are that popular in leading the way for justice and anti-corruption.
However, if they don’t believe in street demonstration, for whatever reasons that they have publicly insisted in the past, it is incumbent upon them to release a statement calling Malaysians not to participate. I know that on the one hand they are thrilled by the idea of ordinary Malaysians supporting their cause, but they cannot have their cake and eat it too.
Otherwise they should also be held responsible for any untoward incident, and we will hear what their nominees have to say about street demonstration when they get to power. You just cannot support it only when it suits you. Of course Mahathir is well-known for such hypocrisy.
Maybe pushing the envelope seems to be highly desirable right now. The other side may be waiting for that too. It will never be the end and Malaysians may suffer for it, but who cares. Bravado is so thrilling.