As the much anticipated Bersih rally day arrives, the chief question being asked is: How many will turn up? Related to that is the question of whether there will be trouble.
The clarion call has been sounding for the past month and a half, complete with nationwide convoys. But after four Bersih rallies, one has to ask whether putting out yet another sequel is not overdoing it. Surely someone could write a script for a completely new movie.
For those who are heading downtown to any of the meeting points around Kuala Lumpur over the next few hours, power to you. It’s your right to attend a peaceful rally and make a stand against the government.
I will also defend your right to participate in the peaceful rally.
However, there are Malaysians who disagree with the idea of a rally, and they too have the right to their opinion. And not all of them are pro-government.
Many of us have voted, and will continue to vote, for the opposition. But we choose not to take this well-beaten path of yet another Bersih rally.
A Welsh proverb comes to mind: “A well-beaten path does not always make the right road.”
As an FMT columnist said on her Facebook wall yesterday, you can’t judge how patriotic a Malaysian is from his thoughts about the Bersih 5 rally. Everyone can choose to participate or not.
The Bersih movement has veered from its original objectives. It’s no longer the election reform group that had the support of many. It has become nothing more than an organiser of political rallies and its current aim is to see the ouster of the Prime Minister. That’s not going to happen through a rally, peaceful or otherwise.
Whether the rally lasts for hours, one full day, or even two like last year, the only thing that we’ll see and hear is the same people, perhaps joined by some new faces, chanting the same old mantras, speeches and allegations.
The allegations may be true. But is Bersih going to change minds? Will there be those who are on the fence who will have an epiphany from Bersih 5? Nothing of the sort will happen. Bersih is merely preaching to the converted.
The government of the day will remain. The foreign news coverage will be censored, the local independent news portals will have a field day, and the government-controlled media will dish out their usual spiel of how weak a turnout the rally had.
The masses who get their news from the mainstream media will be told of a Chinese/Christian/Jewish/foreign agenda. They were the same masses who were sold on the “Chinese are trying to take over the country” propaganda after last year’s Bersih 4, which happened to attract a heavily Chinese-dominated crowd.
The Bersih 5 rally will do nothing to benefit the federal opposition in the next general election. On the contrary, it will continue to be used against any effort that the opposition can muster to try to win votes from the majority community.
We must all continue to speak up against injustice and against corruption, but let’s find another way to get the masses from the other side of the political divide to understand and open their eyes to all that is wrong with the country. Just no more Bersih rallies, please.