Monday, July 11, 2011

Marina Mahathir: Malaysian Government's Image affected by handling of BERSIH 2.0

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11— The government’s poor handling of the Bersih rally has given it a bad image internationally, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said yesterday.

Marina, eldest daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, said that unlike the government, “the world” did not have a bad impression of Malaysians who took part in the rally because they were standing up for their rights and for a cause — demanding free and fair elections.

“There are also some people claiming that the world now has a bad impression of Malaysia because the foreign media (and the local media for that matter) reported only about the tear-gassing and water-cannoning,” Marina said in a blog post yesterday. “I think people are confusing the government with the people.

“Yes, the world now has a bad impression of the Malaysian government because it has handled this whole issue so badly. They don’t have the same impression of the Malaysians who stood up for their rights and their cause.”

Marina, a social activist who was among the thousands who were in the capital city on Saturday facing the riot police, defended the Bersih supporters, saying that they had assembled peacefully and did not cause any harm or violence.

“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,” she added.

Marina said the Bersih rally proved that Malaysians, regardless of age, race or religion could assemble together for a common cause.

More than a thousand people were arrested that day, and chaos broke out at midday after riot police fired tear gas canisters and sprayed water cannons to break up the crowd.

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