But when you have a large number of people amassing in one place, something stupid will eventually happen.
So the “freedom fighters” descended upon Dataran Merdeka to fight for fair and clean elections. They were up against the Barisan Nasional regime which used the police to quell the Bersih 3.0 rally. For a moment, Dataran Merdeka was Tahrir Square, Gaza, Tripoli.
The people have spoken but the guards of the evil regime – the police – used excessive force to crush the sit-in protest by means of tear gas and water cannons. Come to think of it, other dictatorial regimes would prefer live bullets and armoured vehicles to quell resistance, but I guess tear gas is somewhat the same.
This time around a large number of first-time protesters descended on Dataran Merdeka – some came because they believe in the cause while others just wanted to check out what was it all about. Though I think the cause is somewhat flawed, it’s your right to fight for it. If you think that you need to get together and highlight a certain issue, so be it.
I also do accept the fact that when you have a large number of people amassing in one place, especially on a very hot afternoon, something stupid will eventually happen. Sadly though, this time around it’s the politicians who messed things up instead of some crazy hooligans.
I have no quarrel with you having to go out and rally; it’s your story. However, I find the so-called Bersih stories hard to stomach, especially when you talk about the oppression in the country while sipping an overpriced latte in an air-conditioned café.
All of these Bersih stories reminded me of the fishing stories that I have heard. Every time I hear someone talk about a fish he caught or almost caught, he always tends to exaggerate.
Look, I know you’re excited because this is the first time you are attending a rally and yes, I know your intentions are good and idealistic. But oh, come on, just because the tear gas was shot several hundred metres away from you does not gives you the equal standing of a Libyan freedom fighter.
Here’s the thing: I have attended Bersih, Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 although I was more of a spectator in the third one. So I am quite aware of the whole gig. During Bersih 2.0, after we barged through a police line, a barrage of tear gas was unleashed. After a round of water cannon and arrests, the whole gig was over.
So there I was carrying a big speaker (I was one of the cheerleaders). I proceeded to the police station to wait for my detained fellow compatriots to be released. Then we all went home. It sure was an anti-climax. But here’s the thing: emotions may run high, you may believe in your ideals but at least be sensible about them.
I guess I just got tired of all the media hype about the Bersih 3.0 rally. I’m not trying to trivialise the violent acts committed by both sides. It’s just that the overdramatising really bugs me. I prefer to look at it this way: it was a really hot afternoon, and there were some politicians who wanted to get some mileage out of it. Both sides were cranky, so something silly was bound to happen. Next time around, why don’t you folks rally in some shady places, or maybe in the evening or after the sun goes down, and spare us all (or at least me) the drama.
Zaidel Baharuddin is Mr Right, Mr Right Wing that is, electronics engineer by day writer by night, Frank Sinatra fanboy all day long, catch me at WirawanWeb.com, lipassepi.blogspot.com or follow me on twitter via @Sinatra_Z. He is a FMT columnist.