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Massive mobilisation

By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by Soong Phui Jee
Sin Chew Daily

The situation on 9 July 2011 is hardly predictable.

If their plans remain unchanged, three forces will march to Istana Negara on that day.

It reminded me of the Bersih street demonstration three years ago. The political background and social atmosphere at that time were similar to those of today's.

At the end of 2007, the civil society was facing inflationary pressures and social discontent brewed. Politically, the country had entered the countdown stage of the general election.

The opposition and dissident non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took the opportunity to mobilise a massive street demonstration.

The chosen reason of "calling for a clean and fair election" was not important at all as it was only meant to serve election campaign purposes.

The demonstration actually served mainly political purposes, including to strengthen the opposition's momentum and set off the sentiment of opposing the ruling party.

The people had witnessed the opposition's, particularly PAS', strength in mobilisation. Although the police had made a pre-deployment, they still failed to stop the marching masses.

The organiser's organisational capacity was strong. The demonstrators scattered when the police charged but gathered again whenever they found a chance, making the authorities exhausted.

When the police thought that the masses were about to scatter, they gathered again and march towards Istana Negara. At that time, water canons and tear gas could no longer stop them.

The then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi could neither stop the rally by persuasion nor pressure.

The success of the rally had laid a foundation for the cooperation of the three opposition parties, as well as paved the way for the 2008 political tsunami.

Today, the Bersih 2.0 rally is also having its own political agenda behind the trend of rising prices and the preparedness for the next general election.

The Pakatan Rakyat is reapplying its ploy to boost momentum for the approaching election.

The BN is in an awkward dilemma. If it lets the rally to be held, the Pakatan Rakyat would gain its purpose. However, if it represses it, violence might create more sympathisers for the Pakatan Rakyat.

Therefore, the BN has chosen the third way.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin takes the strategy of staging another rally on 9 July, with a very fresh reason.

Instead of confronting with Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections), the rally is meant to defend the democratic system, as well as to improve and enhance the electoral system.

It is in fact similar to the slogan of Bersih.

Khairy understands that the success of the rally would benefit the Pakatan Rakyat, particularly PAS, and if they suppress it, they would pull themselves away from the public opinion.

Therefore, it leaves the anti-rally actions to Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa). After all, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali does not really care about his image.

The mild rally of Umno Youth might weaken the Bersih rally's momentum and legitimacy.

If Umno Youth's strategy succeeds, it might also help Khairy return to the political mainstream.

Of course, the numbers of rally participants will decide the winner.

Most importantly, they must play their role well to keep the situation under control.

 

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