The stage for another tsunami of change to clean up the nation.
The attack by thugs and hooligans on the students camping peacefully at Dataran Merdeka is the last straw. Not only were the students beaten up, their mobile phones, cameras and cash donations from well-wishers were also taken away.
Civil society is now getting fed up with the government which seems to be a law unto itself and acting with arrogance and impunity in oppressing the rakyat. The students have their rights and the Barisan Nasional government should engage in a peaceful discussion with them in order to come up with an amicable win-win solution.
Instead, the BN government is thumbing its nose at the students. This is unacceptable and this attack on the students just goes to show that even law and order has been breached. What is Malaysia coming to?
This columnist who was at Dataran Merdeka to give moral support to the students found that their rationale for protesting about their student loans is reasonable as the repayment interest can go higher than 20% due to late repayment.
One student told this columnist that he is unhappy with the interest rate as the debt of one BN crony amounting to RM589 million was written off just like that.
Passers-by – the young and elderly – also stopped by to give the students moral support and told this columnist that they will be coming to Dataran Merdeka for Bersih 3.0 rally. Bersih 3.0 is going to be a big event. “We will be near Dataran if there are roadblocks,” said an elderly man.
Serious action must be taken against the thugs who attacked the students and those who disrupted Pakatan Rakyat’s ceramahs. So far, there has been no action against the thugs who beat people up at an ABU (Anyone But Umno) function in Klang in January this year or the thugs who attacked reporters at the Anti-Lynas Rally in Penang on Feb 26. Twelve car windscreens were also smashed during a DAP fund-raising dinner in Sarawak recently.
There has been an increase in lawlessness since the beginning of this year and so far Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has kept an “elegant silence”. This is unacceptable as it seems we are going back to the medieval age where we need to carry a sword and shield for protection.
Najib must not be blind to these incidents of violence. He must come out strongly to issue statements condemning these violent thugs. In a press conference on April 4 during the announcement of the date of the Bersih 3.0 sit-in, co-chairperson S Ambiga has expressed the hope that Najib and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim can come up with a joint statement condemning the recent escalating violence during political ceramahs. This (spirally violence) is a dangerous prelude to the forthcoming 13th general election.
It is every Malaysian’s ardent wish that the election campaign will be peaceful and orderly and that a high level of decorum, professionalism and sound ethics be employed. We hope that concrete steps will be taken to stop this culture of violence.
Be that as it may, these incidents are not doing the BN government any favour. The groundswell is building up. If you attend a Pakatan ceramah, you can see people from all walks of life there. To give you an example of the diversity, you will see an elderly Chinese man in short trousers and singlet standing next to a young Malay boy or a Sikh guy.
Prior to 2004, the response to the opposition ceramahs was poor and there might be 100 to 200 Malay men in skull-caps. But not so these days. Today, Pakatan ceramahs always draw more than a 1,000 people. The only way BN can win now is via the dirty voter rolls.
Even in the Umno stronghold of Johor, some of the die-hard Umno supporters are waking up. There will be a group called Gabungan Selamatkan Tanah Rakyat Johor (Tanah) which will be joining the Bersih 3.0 sit-in. These people are from Tanah Sungai Balang Muar, Felda Cahaya Baru, Setinggan Kampung Plentong Tengah and many more.
According to Johor PAS Youth’s Suhaizan Kaiat, this is the first time that this is happening. In Kelantan, 400 Umno members from Gual Ipoh and Bukit Panau have left and joined PAS. Recently this month alone, 69 Umno members from Kampung Dangar and Kampung Kedap have joined PAS and on April 7, 152 Umno members from Bukit Tuku, also in Kelantan, have joined PAS. In the parliamentary seat of Kota Raja, Selangor, whose MP is Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud from PAS, 450 members have left PPP to join PAS.
Amidst all this flurry of activities, the issue of fair and balanced media coverage and 21-day campaign period – which are also among Bersih’s eight demands – seem to have been left on the back-burner as the focus is on the dirty voter rolls. Nevertheless, this columnist dares to say that these two demands will clearly be ignored by the BN government.
Najib is also busy touring the country and showing that he is campaigning hard to win the people’s support so that when BN wins, he can say that he deserved it because he campaigned very hard. This is the illusory reason BN will give to dupe the rakyat when it wins the 13th general election.
BN is building up a great momentum and is like a tiger now. It is showing its might and has let out a mighty roar. The people meanwhile are waking up. The rakyat will be like the dragon rising up from the ocean bringing a tsunami of change to clean up the nation. The tiger will roar. The dragon will rise. The stage is set for Armageddon 2012.
Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.