30 April 2012
Bersih 3.0 - Aftermath
On 30 April 2012, 6:55 PMBy: Tony Teh Label(s): Blog, Miscellaneous, Politics
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So the question has pretty much shifted from 'why not just let Bersih 3.0 to be held at Dataran Merdeka' to 'how did the Bersih participants break through the barricades and became out of control'. The focus has changed.
If everything that happened on Saturday 428 was all set up by UMNO - Barisan Nasional, well played! Very well played. Absolutely brilliant. Their plan went accordingly in their favour. But what if it wasn't planned by BN? If it was, are there enough evidence to believe that they most likely did? Although I'm a Bersih supporter and I despise the government to the guts, I'm not gonna jump straight to conclusions by letting my bias thoughts take over. Let's look at the popular allegations, conspiracies, hidden truths and myths, one by one.
As I have already shared on my experience at Bersih 3.0, I saw nothing much besides one or two angry protesters kicking garbage bins and throwing water bottles at police patrol vehicles. The cops on motorcycles were completely spared and ignored by the participants. I don't know what happened in front there on Jalan Tun Perak but it was kind of unnecessary for the riot police to keep firing tear gas canisters at the people. My friends and I were far from the front line and yet we had canisters falling right in front our path even when we were escaping towards the opposite direction. Then when we were sitting at the sides resting and figuring out how to go return home, they fired some more. This much is true from where I was. I did not witness any violent act at all. But on the other side of the Dataran Merdeka, however, was very different. My friend, who was there along with his brother and friends, witnessed things that everyone could only speculate from watching the videos and pictures circulating on the internet.
The main conspiracy now is that there were probably agent provocateurs planted that triggered the chaos. It is highly possible considering that most of the photographs show that the people who broke the barricades in the front line were not wearing yellow. The guy who threw a stone into the police patrol car that caused the driver to go unconscious and ultimately crashing was not in yellow either.
There are also some who are speculating that there were a couple of thousand of undercover police or paid troublemakers wore yellow. The infamous Dato' Zaharin Mohd Yasin mentioned about this on this Facebook status update as well. However, one recently released video indicates that Pakatan Rakyat opposition party leader Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim may had signaled his followers to break through the barriers. He has defended himself saying that he was actually gesturing at them to negotiate with the police. Why would he wanna tell the people to breach the barricades anyway? Don't think a politician can be that stupid. Then came another video that proofs that he did tell the crowd to not turn into Dataran Merdeka right before the end of his speech. Whatever it is, the participants should've just behaved and sit tight behind the barricade line instead of following the others through.
Bersih 3.0 started off very peacefully, with the police accepting flowers from the participants and smiling with them. What made them take action afterwards? The closest thing to violence by protesters that I saw with my own eyes that day was water bottle-throwing. Apparently it was an accidental tear gas canister shot that provoked the protesters. Then they fired more, without end, later on. The regular uniformed cops also allegedly provoked by hand gesturing and kicking the canisters at the crowd. It's easy to understand why the people became so angry that they started throwing the water bottles and kicking some objects. The heat of the hot weather that day, too, played a major role, causing some participants to either faint or getting a little angry quicker than usual. But if that's all that the PDRM is accusing of the participants for being violent and "out of control", they must be out of their minds. Even Justin Bieber took one to his head and all he did was saying 'ouch'. And by the way, what's wrong with sitting in front of the police? Please watch the following video.
As for the turned-over patrol car, it's obvious from the video and photographs that they did it because they thought someone was ran over and got stuck under the vehicle. Accordingly to the available evidence, the people who threw stones and bricks were not in yellow. Why did they have police cars squeezing through a crowd of enraged protesters anyway? It's like they were inviting trouble. If they really wanted to patrol, there were many of other smarter ways to do so. Like driving an ambulance instead or having their gliders do the job.
Dato' Ambiga, chairperson of Bersih 2.0 committee, has asked the crowd to disperse at around 2.40pm but the message did not go through because most of us did not get any phone coverage. All participants have been relying on social media to keep themselves updated but this time, we were completely cut off. There is a rumour saying that the police had brought devices to jammed all communications. There is no real proof about that besides images like the following. If the vehicle in the photo does what they say it does, the police is either arrogant enough to openly use this method or they're just too careless to have had pictures of it taken. I for one believe that it was only the result of poor telecommunication service. If you wanna know, I was using a Maxis line.
But anyway, it was almost impossible to disperse when all the LRT stations around were closed. It's almost like the authorities wanted us to stay for the chaos that was about to come.
It was almost surprising how it went so smoothly at the beginning. I was suspecting something fishy all along. Although I can't accuse without solid evidence, how can I not believe that the government has nothing to do with how it went down? Almost all of the mainstream newspapers are headlining Bersih 3.0 negatively. Some fabricated the actual truth while some just not mentioning the important positive details of the incidents. None, of course, mentioned that the police ganged up on protesters violently for no valid reasons and disallowing the photographers and media to record what's happening. Some non-participants including foreigners, reporters and photographers were also attacked by officers and then arrested with their cameras confiscated. Many videos of evidence are being circulated on the internet now and instead of answering these use of violence by the police, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein gave the PDRM a pat on the back, saying that they did a fantastic job of handling the rally.
There are also no mentions about the excessive use of tear gas and having them fired a few into a LRT station and Masjid Jamek. Even BBC's report on Astro was compromised. The police driver that crashed the car also did not mention to the media that it was the Bersih participants who took him out of the vehicle and escorted him to safety and medical attention. Well this is what I have to say to Astro, The Star, Kosmo, RTM, TV3, New Sunday Times, Bernama, and all the other mainstream media that I do not follow - SHAME ON YOU.
There was also no mention about the foreign fact-finding group who came to analyse the electoral roll and to observe the rally but ended up suffering the effects of teargas. Please watch the video below if you wish to hear what they have to say about our EC and Bersih 3.0. Let me just quote few of their lines, "
The social media is not that clean either. Majority are very supportive of Bersih and are being overly biased, spreading rumours that may not be true and condemning the entire police force for their brutality. Someone also shared a photoshopped image of KL being completely flooded by Bersih supporters. That person probably meant no harm but it's one move that's just as stupid as how PDRM shared edited videos that show only mildly misbehaving participants. With this now, the non-supporters can claim that Bersih is not that honest after all.
In conclusion, the government have successfully turned the tides by having the media to influence people into believing that Bersih 3.0 was nothing but a nasty assembly. People are beginning to miss the point here. Why couldn't the authorities just allow Bersih 3.0 to be held at Dataran Merdeka? Why build barricades to be breached? Why is it wrong to use the Merdeka Square? What justifies the PDRM to use violence against protesters? The biggest point being missed here is - why can't the government commit in electoral reform? The demands of Bersih 3.0 are not too much to ask for. What do they have to fear?