Bersih 3.0: DAP, Christians, churches
• Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday described the rally as an attempt to topple the government.
• “… the Election Commission deputy chairman Wan Ahmad chose to parrot the BN politicians’ accusation that Bersih aim to topple the BN government through mass rallies, or at least help the opposition build momentum to capture Putrajaya”, observed BK Ong, northern region coordinator with election watchdog Mafrel.
Compiled below is a sampling of some familiar names – and some of them connected with DAP – and excerpts of what they’ve said about Bersih. Knowing who these people are will help connect the dots to the Bersih canvas being painted.
DAP’s good friend Aliran
• Aliran past president P. Ramakrishnan stressed that if Malaysians want change, then they have to change the government. He said this at the high-tea hosted by Aliran for Pak Samad and other Bersih steering committee members which was attended by 500 people in Penang two days ago. (source: Anil Netto)
• ‘The debacle of mishandling‘ — Dr Hsu Dar Ren
(11 July 2011) “Contrary to what the authorities tried to portray, those who took part in the rally were multiracial; not just Christian groups as would have been the case if the allegation of Christian funding was true.“
[Dr Hsu is a Malaysian Insider columnist and he wrote the above regarding allegations that Bersih 2.0 was funded by Christian groups; bold emphasis mine]
• ‘The Christian mandate vs a stolen mandate’ — Bob Teoh
(25 April 2012) “Should Christians support Bersih 3.0? I say yes, without any hesitation.”
• ‘Are churches misusing the pulpit? Yes, they should!‘ — Alwyn Lau
(25 April 2012) “Bersih 3.0 is around the corner. Election fraud is imminent. Putrajaya’s war drums are sounding. What do Christians do?”
Answer: “Put bluntly, Malaysian preachers are ALREADY — by their actions, online activity, conversations, etc. ‘telling their congregation who to vote for’. Yet, on the pulpit, everyone expects preachers to be ‘neutral’. Since when is the pulpit a mini-Geneva?”
[Alwyn Lau, who in his article says he's a Christian, writes that preachers are obligated to utilize their pulpits even if it should involve the church telling its members to, among other things, kick Barisan Nasional out of Putrajaya.]
• ‘The pulpit, the pastor and politics‘ — Rama Ramanathan
(26 April 2012) “The question being debated [among Malaysian Christians] is, ‘Should those who step into the pulpits of churches and address millions in Malaysia every Sunday tell their audiences whom to vote for?’ Variations of the question include this: ‘Should Christians participate in Bersih 3.0’?”
[A churchgoer, Rama Ramanathan exhorted: "See you at Bersih 3.0".]
• ‘Yes, Prime Minister, we need answers!‘ — Dr Hsu Dar Ren
(30 April 2012) “Or was the crackdown meant to punish the people, 99.9 per cent of whom were peaceful and harmless?”, said Dr Hsu who was formerly the Gerakan chief of Cheras. He quit the party after complaining: “I am sick of race-based politics”.
Dr Hsu commented how “many [people at Bersih 3.0] really showed their hatred”.
Several Penang BN leaders have alleged that chief minister Lim Guan Eng has been playing hate politics and fanning hatred among DAP followers. (Also read HERE)
• ‘The gov’t that fights civil society won’t last long‘ — Stephen Ng
“From the forum organised by Tindak Malaysia on ‘How clean will the 13th general election be?’ on Tuesday night, I can feel the pulse and the anger of the people. The people are simply angry with the BN administration, which has overstayed the hospitality of the Malaysian people for far too long.”
Who are hogging cyberspace?
In the ongoing postmortem, the general consensus has been that Saturday’s rally drew a bigger crowd than its predecessor Bersih 2.0 and could arguably have been the biggest street protest ever to have taken place in the country.
It can also be argued that 428 (April 28) is the demo which saw the Chinese taking part in unprecedented numbers.
Christian opposition supporters command the social networks, including chain mail and online chat forums. Therefore, they are the ones who are in control of the narratives, myth-making and shaping public perception in the virtual world, especially in English.
• Anti-Lynas activist Wong Tack, the Himpunan Hijau chairman, complained about the police’s “ill-behaviour” towards the “peace-loving crowd”.
“A true Malaysian pastor” recounts his experience
“It was so much easier to mobilise my church members to go. Many who regretted not taking part in Bersih 2.0 out of ‘fear’, managed to overcome the invisible fear barrier and made their physical presence felt.
“We were much better prepared physically, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically for Bersih 3.0 compared to 2.0. As a church we could openly pray about the situation and condition of our beloved nation and where it is heading.
“There was obviously more Chinese people present this time around. More young people were in attendance.”
“The (LRT) trains were just full of Malaysians, all of whom would have stories to tell, the out of towners were tired but still needed to take trains to their homes. It took us more than three hours to reach our homes, though we live in the suburbs of Subang Jaya …”
• ”I looked at the police and feared for my life‘ — Christina Foo
“What surprised me was that there were so very many Chinese there. For a long time we Chinese have been in a comfort zone and therefore have always seemed to take a back seat when it came to things like this. As such it was a pleasant surprise to see so many youngsters and many had their parents with them.”
The Malaysian Insider is currently running a series called ‘My Bersih 3.0 story’ where its readers share their experiences. Most of the narrators thus far have been Christian.
• ‘Cowardice is the mother of cruelty’ — May Chee Chook Ying
“You must come to my church, St. Theresa, Malacca, to know what I mean. Our choir, lectors, commentators, cantors, etc are largely made up of youth. This is rare, to have youth so generous with their time for God. I believe when they showed up at Dataran Pahlawan [for Bersih 3.0's state chapter], they did it with God in mind.”
• ‘Bersih 428: A personal perspective‘ — Dr Goh Chee Leong
“I met so many ex students, current students, colleagues, church friends, old school friends in the four hours we were there. I was particularly proud of our students and graduates for participating. It gives me hope for Malaysia’s future.”
“I saw whole churches with their pastors who had organised group outings for this. To me this is great.”
• ‘When will we stop being a police state?‘ — Rama Ramanathan
“We have now seen the videos of the police acting brutally. We’ve seen groups of men in blue kicking and punching lone individuals. These videos will never be shown in the mainstream media; these stories will never be told in the mainstream media.”
• ‘Bersih 3.0: Two visions for democracy?’ — Kevin Soo
“So for all of you who went peacefully and courageously, who didn’t throw the first stone (literally) and who turned the other cheek (figuratively): blessed are you peacemakers.”
The righteous speak up too
• ‘Bersih 3.0: My side of the story’ — Adam Tan
“I will go again, if the purpose of the demonstration is right. Why? Because I care enough. Because this is my land. Because I want to make a difference. Because I am Malaysian. I believe some of you might disagree with what I shared. Good. Now go write your story.”
• Witnessing the death of democracy — Shazuan Ali
“In the future, when my children ask, I would say, “Son, I was there fighting for your future and on that fateful day I witness the death of democracy in our country.”
• ‘The seed of hope‘ — Jun W.
“They [BN] have a huge war chest and they will do whatever to desperately cling onto power. We know but can’t blame the poor amongst us who sell their votes for a sack of rice.”
• ‘Liberation Day @ 428‘ — CL Tang
“Malaysians who missed the rally will learn the truth – of the bravery and courage of thousands of their fellow Malaysians who stood up to demand what should have been rightfully ours from the very start – free and fair elections.”
• ‘Dataran Merdeka: Who provoked the violence?‘ — Jackson Ng
“In a mass rally or gathering, everyone knows that it takes only a small spark to cause mayhem. And human nature, as well as animals, is such that defence is the only response to attack. So, let us analyse what happened at Bersih 3.0 before we fall into the propaganda trap of the evil BN government.”
[Adam, Shazuan and Jun's articles appeared in The Malaysian Insider while CL Tang and Jackson Ng's appeared in Malaysiakini.]
I’m not sure how you would read Jun’s assertion that there are those who sell our votes to BN cheaply but it may cross your mind that followers of Pakatan possess a superiority complex.
They appear convinced that while they themselves cast their vote righteously, anyone else who on the other hand gives his or her vote to BN must be corrupt, ignorant and immoral.
They also seem to think that those who attended the rally are brave, courageous and heroic whereas those who did not are presumably selfish cowards.
For them, Malaysia is conceived starkly in terms of black and white, good and evil. They feel quite sure that they are on side of light and right.
Hannah Yeoh’s Twitter buddy Gan Pei Ling is a reporter with Selangor Times. She is seen in the photo above receiving a mock cheque for her ‘journalism award‘ from Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik.