By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Different people have drawn different conclusions for the Bersih 3.0 rally.
Foreigners might feel confused and wonder why the rally could not be held peacefully.
Why was there a violent incident, again? BN supporters condemned rally participants for committing the act of violence and praised the police for their professionalism. Meanwhile, rally participants recognised the rally's democratic significance and blamed the police for their excessive enforcement.
It is a fact that a police vehicle was damaged and police officers were attacked. However, it is also a fact that 103 rally participants were injured and 65 of them were sent to hospital. Also, reporters on duty were assaulted and detained. Therefore, the government should set up an independent committee to investigate and ferret out those who were involved, to ensure similar incident not to repeat in the future and again, cause a shame to the country.
Rallies could actually be held peacefully. Unfortunately, some people failed to restraint themselves while some took advantage to make trouble. Take the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally as an example, the rally was carried out peacefully under the coordination of the police. However, violent incidence took place and the police had fired tear gas and water cannons at all the three political related Bersih rallies.
A total of 245 people were arrested during the first Bersih rally on 10 November 2007, while 1,697 were arrested during the Bersih 2.0 rally last year and this year, 512 were arrested. However, the atmosphere of the third rally was more aggressive than the former two even after the Peaceful Assembly Bill was passed in the Dewan Rakyat.
The political struggle has been heating up and many people have lost their rationality, turning the slogans for openness and liberalisation a mockery.
From the reports of the mainstream media, online media and social networking sites, we can see that their reports are one-sided. The former highlights the act of violence of some rally participants, while the latter two condemn the police. The former might be able to influence suburban voters, while the latter two have further intensified the sentiment against the incumbent parties.
Mainstream media have highlighted the violent site of the three rallies, but the effect is little. The number of participants have increased instead. The authority should recognise that it is now the age of Internet and the civil society can now access to different kinds of message.
Moreover, tough actions might also exacerbate hatred. It would be imprinted in the people's mind, regardless of which party is injured. It would bring negative impact to young people.
It is not necessarily a good thing for the BN when the Bersih 3.0 sit-in rally ended up as a chaos. Just like the various controversies of the Bersih 2.0 rally, they could continue to ferment and affect the preparatory work for the general election.
No matter whether the number of participants is 100,000 or 250,000, there is an increment. It was a first time for many people and there were senior citizens among the participants.
Most of the participants were Malays and Chinese. The passion demonstrated by young Malay participants is indeed a wake-up call for Umno.
The Bersih 3.0 has achieved its desired effects while the Himpunan Hijau 3.0 has also expanded its appeal among the Malay community.
Umno's stand after the Bersih 3.0 rally is critical. If the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) is not sustained, the efforts done to win swing votes so far will be wasted.
We can see that the authority actually intended to take a soft approach at first. However, it eventually changed to a hard approach, probably due to the party's internal factors.
The violence at the Bersih 3.0 sit-in rally is a stain of the democratic politics. Is confrontation really the only fate for the country's democratisation?