Going the Distance (Selangor Times)
4 April 2012
If the government is not quaking in their boots after last weekend, then they
must be in total denial.
Conservative estimates put the number of people at the Bersih gathering in
the 80,000 to 100,000 region. That is at least twice as big as Bersih 1.0 in
Commentators, including myself, were doubtful that any significant number
would turn up at Bersih 3.0.
Rally fatigue we said. To be proven wrong and in such a huge way, is
The people of this country are fed up and they are willing to let their feet
do the talking.
I refuse to take part in speculation that there were those in the rally
planted there to cause trouble until much more evidence is shown. But what is
clear is that even though there was trouble, the fact that only a handful of
policemen were hurt only goes to show that the vast majority of people at the
gathering were there with peaceful intentions.
No matter how much the government may spin the issue, the facts speak for
The chaos would have been indescribable if 80,000 people set out with the
express intention to create havoc. This was clearly not the case.
What we have are Malaysians from all walks of life, from differing ethnic
backgrounds and from different social strata, getting together demanding that
their right to choose their leaders not be undermined by corrupt and unjust
Which makes the recent changes in election laws, taking away the right for
candidates to have their own observers at polling stations and at the vote
counting to ensure that all is above board, an ironic recipe for disaster.
It is ironic because any government which harps on about how fair it is,
can’t possibly be expected to be believed if they make such a law which is the
complete antithesis to fairness and transparency.
It is a recipe for disaster because if there is any doubt at all that the
next elections are not clean and fair, the people of Malaysia have shown that
they have the courage and the fortitude to demand what is right.
What concerns me at this time is that the government not only doesn’t care
about making sure our electoral system is fair, they also don’t seem to care
about the consequences if that same system remains unfixed.
I have said many times in the past that a clean electoral system is a
diffuser of political chaos.
When people feel that a party has won or lost fair and square, there is no
need to take to the streets. There is after all the next time an election is
called and you can make changes then.
It is only in the face of a brutal and unfair system that anger spills
It happened in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in Egypt and many other places
where people felt they either had no voice or their voice had been disregarded
by a flawed and corrupt election.
A government that truly respects democracy understands this.
They will be willing to lose an election in the hope and expectation that
they will be able to fight another day and win back the power they lost if they
have the right ideas. They will also understand that a lasting peace depends on
a sound democracy.
Only a government that is totally obtuse and totally uncaring about anything
else except their own precarious clutch on power will fail to realise the
importance of a fair electoral system.
It is now up to the Najib administration, over the next few weeks and months,
to show what kind of government it is.