Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best in Malaysian Unity Seen on July 9

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir & Dato'A.Samad

The Bersih 2.0 rally certainly served as a first blow to the government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and even before he could get the blessing of the Pope, a second wave of attack seems to have hit Putrajaya.

Only this time the attack came from within, from an unexpected source and one that must have been close to Najib since it was none other than former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir's daughter Marina Mahathir.

In an interview to an online portal, Marina had said that the government of the day feels threatened, is in a total state of panic, denial and cannot think clearly.

Marina is an extraordinary person, strongly principled and steadfast and it does say something about her father, Dr Mahathir because like him or not, agree with him or not, it is clear that freedom of expression was something allowed within the Mahathir family.

But whichever way we look at it, we should be happy that there are people like Marina emerging from within the country and Najib has to take note of her comments because he had underestimated one woman (Ambiga) and would not want to repeat the same mistake. "They do feel threatened because they underestimated Bersih in 2007 and then in the 2008 general election, they lost many seats in Parliament and some states. And since then, they have been in a state of total panic and they can't think clearly at all. Now they are obsessed about how to win them back.

"You can win back people just by being nice. You can't win back people by being nasty. You can't say that those people who marched are hooligans. Maybe there was a handful, not all of them.
"The majority of them were professionals. The group was so diverse and it was really one Malaysia - young, rich, poor of every race, creed and every religion," she said.

Even before the July 9 rally, Marina, a social activist had taken a swipe at Bersih 2.0 chief S. Ambiga's detractors, saying that personal attacks against the latter only showed their immaturity.

"I am very concerned and upset over the personal attacks on Ambiga. It speaks of those who are against Bersih, (and) how shallow their arguments (are). This reflects badly on how they're brought up," she had said.

On July 9, Marina took part in the Bersih 2.0 protest, with her daughter and friends. She added that the people who marched were proud of the Bersih 2.0 movement. "I may not agree with your cause but you did a really good thing. We all became One Malaysia.

"Now, they are labelling us all sorts of names and let me tell you that they have lost all these votes. They may think they have lost them anyway, but let me tell you that there were a lot of people sitting on the fence and they have definitely gone to the other side. I see this clearly in the social media, especially email, on Twitter and in the blogs."

Marina explained that the July 9 rally and police shooting into Tung Shin Hospital, had dented the image of the government and would obviously affect the ruling party "from the all the stupid statements that they are making and have been made by the government officials".

She added: "Imagine saying that the police fired into the Tung Shin Hospital to protect the patients. It does not make sense. Again, they cannot think clearly and it is having an effect on the government.

"The prime minister came to give a briefing to 6,000 people the following day after July 9. If you are constantly surrounded by people who are telling you that you are wonderful and you are right, you are not going to get a true picture of what happened. You have to go and talk to people with different, not mutual views.

"If they refuse to listen to the people, the government leaders are going to be cocooned in complacency. And they are going to react in absolutely the wrong way."

Najib had accused Ambiga of plotting to sabotage the BN-led government's efforts to peacefully build the nation and its economy, saying she aims "to ruin all this".

Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar meanwhile, called Ambiga a Pakatan Rakyat stooge who is merely being used to further the opposition coalition's ambitions of power.

Marina stressed that instead of demonizing and calling people names, it would be more productive to focus on the facts and issues surrounding Bersih 2.0 and its demands. 'What's to be afraid of T-shirts?'

Marina also slammed the on-going crackdown on supporters of the movement calling for free and fair elections, calling it an act of fear.

"Only people who are afraid will arrest people wearing T-shirts. Ask the people, if they see Bersih on a shirt, will it make them want to riot?

Whatever one thinks about the issue that Bersih is espousing, we should all be proud of our fellow Malaysians who did not, despite dire predictions by some, behave like hooligans and destroy property and hurt one another.

There were people hurt and one death but people who had participated in the rally did not cause them. The restaurants and shops around the area were doing roaring business as people got thirsty and hungry.

National laureate Dato' A Samad Said who echoed a similar sentiment said Umno, the commanding political party in the BN, was using the threat of Malays losing their political power to shore up its support base in countering the electoral reform demanded by Bersih 2.0.

Any implementation of the eight demands by Bersih 2.0, which includes postal voting reform, a major source of votes for the ruling coalition, is expected to erode its stranglehold on power.
"This (racial politics) is often raised by Umno. Most recently (with Bersih 2.0), there were also suggestions that Malay (political) power was being eroded," Samad said.

"All the prime ministers and deputies have been Malay, all the menteris besar are Malays except for Penang; Even among the MPs, many are Malays, so what is the excuse?

"This shows political power is in Malay hands, but yet the Malays are screaming of being threatened... it means the Malay leadership is at fault," Samad added.

The 76-year-old poet and novelist said it was time Umno took responsibility and stopped blaming others for its failure.

"When they are pressed, they use racial politics and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) for convenience, which is unhealthy. The Malay leadership has to take responsibility for the ills in the Malay community. They are the cause of these ills.

"It's been (more than) 50 years (since independence), if they cannot galvanise (the Malay community), then they should reflect, not use racial politics to strengthen their position," he said.
Despite the attacks against Bersih 2.0, he believes that the best in Malaysian unity was seen on July 9.

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