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Mahathir Mohamad has an extremely blinkered view of the Bersih movement. It’s too simplistic a view by Mahathir – as reported – that Bersih ‘violence’ is a warm-up to Pakatan general election loss. This is a sheer political manoeuvre – a Machiavellian plan to distort the whole truth and dupe the masses.
Mahathir pre-empts that the Opposition is going to create violence, hence scare the people not to vote for the Opposition. His actual intention is too easy to read. He has the audacity here to use the term ‘violence’ to portray the Opposition to rouse anxiety in the people.
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Out of sync
Mahathir appears to be completely out of sync with the situation on the ground and he is quite delusional in reading the winds of change in the country’s political landscape. How about if Barisan loses in the next general election? Would UMNO and its supporters resort to violence? Perhaps, Mahathir may want to consider the possible scenario here when violence has never been the Opposition way to politics.
“Is Mahathir encouraging violence and fear to intimidate the populace so that Barisan remains in power?” asked a PAS lawmaker.
Of late, there have been numerous reports on ‘violence’ during gatherings or ceramah held by the Opposition. The violence disrupting Opposition gatherings has inopportunely marred UMNO, and not the Opposition. This is the perception of the people.
“UMNO is gradually disintegrating out of its own actions. The people now want a change largely because they cannot tolerate the intemperance anymore,” said a PAS supporter.
When the Opposition is not allowed to reach the voters through the government-controlled media it has to resort to gatherings to reach the people. But the gatherings are thwarted by thugs, hooliganism and intimidation. This has become a vehement approach to politics by some resentful groups.
A false impression of Bersih
In the people’s perception, UMNO and its supporters have sunk to the despicable level of resorting to violence to deter people from Opposition politics.
What fears the people is, “Would this culture continue during the intense campaigns leading to the next general election, and post-general election in case UMNO loses power to Pakatan?”
“Looking at the present trend where the people see gatherings held by Pakatan being harassed, there is likelihood that UMNO and its supporters may go violent if they lose the next general election,” quipped a fence-sitter in Kuala Lumpur.
Is Mahathir trying to paint a false impression of Bersih? Is he trying to implicate Bersih as advocating violence together with the Opposition so as to convince the people that the sitting government is far better than the Opposition?
“In the first place, Bersih should not be associated with any violent movement. Bersih is established to secure electoral and social justice for all Malaysians through peaceful means,” said a supporter of Bersih who did not take part in the recent rally.
Mahathir has lost the plot
Mahathir has lost the plot as a study now says 92 percent of the people feel that the nation's electoral roll is tainted. In other words, the people are seeking changes to the electoral process.
Critics even have the opinion that UMNO is ‘violently’ opposed to free and fair elections and is very afraid that the electorate will know the truth about the irregularities in the electoral process.
“Bersih has not disrupted any gathering held by UMNO or the Opposition thus far. Bersih members are not like the wild groups of people demonstrating violently and aimlessly in the Opposition-controlled states,” said a Bersih supporter. “Bersih is not a racial or religious organisation. It’s free from politics,” she added.
As such, it’s a flaw that Mahathir is putting the Opposition and Bersih in the same pool. Apparently, Bersih has nothing to do with Barisan or Pakatan. It’s just an apolitical organisation seeking justice for all Malaysians and it has gained much support from a united Malaysian race.
Those participating in Bersih rallies were only armed with ‘water and salt’. The intrinsic philosophy of Bersih is non-violence – to seek electoral justice through non-violence means. Bersih 3.0 was only supposed to be a sit-in protest and if it was allowed to use Dataran Merdeka for the purpose, the country could have seen over 300 000 peace-loving Malaysians sitting peacefully protesting against the government.
If allowed by the authority and without any provocation, the sit-in protest could have been a peaceful event.
A pattern of intimidation
The Bersih 3.0 rally is no indication that violence is the way of life among majority Malaysians. Patchy unruliness during the rally that happened due to ‘provocation’ was seen to have disrupted the event but this is no indication that Bersih 3.0 is the run-up to Opposition violence if they win or lose the next general election.
The harassment of Bersih co-chair S Ambiga and the violence by UMNO flunkies during gatherings by the Opposition fit a pattern of intimidation to prevent Bersih and the Opposition from going down to the people. If at all Bersih is seen together with the Opposition then it must be for a common cause – to seek electoral justice for all Malaysians. Violence has never been their culture.
The 2008 general election saw the Opposition losing to the Barisan government and yet the people saw no street violence.
With the present fervour to disrupt Opposition gatherings and the impudent demonstrations by certain disgruntled groups allegedly allied to UMNO in Opposition controlled states plus the many past incidences involving the cow-head stomping, despoilment of temples, churches, mosques and the racial and religious tones espoused by UMNO supporters are only indications that UMNO may resort to ‘violence’ if they lose in the next general election.
But UMNO cannot quash the people’s sentiments for a change of government by resorting to threats of violence. Nor can the ghost of May 13 – a Mahathir political weapon – help UMNO scare the people from voting a government of their choice now.
UMNO has never tasted defeat
UMNO has never tasted defeat at the federal level. Losing power after 55 years of dominating Malaysian politics is going to be a huge distress for UMNO. The people who thronged the streets for free and fair elections during the Bersih 3.0 rally just hope that there will be a smooth transition of power to the Opposition in the case of Barisan losing the next general election.
“UMNO should not resort to violence if they lose power. The majority Malaysians will not resort to violence as prophesised by some self-seeking politicians,” quipped a PAS supporter in Kuala Lumpur.
Obviously, Bersih 3.0 has nothing to do with the Opposition or Barisan. The Opposition supports the Bersih 3.0 rally for a justified cause – seeking free and fair elections in the country. There are also many Barisan supporters who support Bersih’s cause.
“I’m a Barisan supporter but personally I support Bersih’s intention. It’s good for the country in the long run,” quipped an MIC supporter. Bersih is merely seeking electoral justice but their noble aim has been twisted to connote as a ‘violent’ means of reproaching the incumbent government.
Opposition will not create violence
“Opposition 'violence' will not happen. The country has not seen Opposition violence thus far. All this time, it is the Opposition that has become the victim. Whereas, UMNO and its supporters are the actual aggressors,” said a DAP supporter.
Reports have shown that it is the Opposition gatherings that have being violently disrupted thus far and there is a lack of political will on the part of the sitting government to curb this menace. There were troubles created in so many gatherings organised by the Opposition and NGOs, but not at those by UMNO or Barisan.
“The Opposition will not create violence to stay in power but all this time the opposition members are the victims and UMNO is the aggressor, “said a PAS lawmaker.
It seems like UMNO is now afflicted with a ‘survival syndrome’ and this can make their supporters become vicious even to the extent of foregoing peace and harmony of the nation. “UMNO wants to be dominant and with this comes the art of oppression. The regime wants to remain in power at all cost. So ‘violence’ can always be used as a tool to achieve this purpose,” said a political analyst in a local university.
A twisted character
Mahathir is indeed a twisted character. He must be setting the stage for the possibility that the ruling coalition will lose. And if there is trouble after that, it will be done by the same people doing it right now. He actually fears UMNO losing in the next general election. Or is violence what he promises should Pakatan win the next general election?
Unfortunately, Mahathir has lost his political bite a long time ago and his supporters are dwindling fast by the day. The few who butter him up are those long lost in politics.
Using reverse psychology to frighten the people is not going to work. If Mahathir is so confident that UMNO will win the next general election he does not need to resort to politics of fear. He has failed to understand that the politics of fear have no influence on the masses today.
Resorting to state-run propaganda to scare the voters is not going to help him either.
The huge turn-out for the peaceful Bersih 3.0 rally is testimony to the fact that the majority of all races in the country cannot be duped anymore to resort to violence in achieving social justice.