Cleaner, freer, fairer, better
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2012
It’s been a good nine months since the epic Bersih 2.0 rally of July 2011. I still remember the days that came before that mammoth gathering - the tension, the stress, the uncertainties, and most of all: the unyielding desire of the rakyat for free and fair elections - and realize that, given the special circumstance that we are in today what with polls being weeks or months away, those thunderous days may not be repeated verbatim.
At least that seems to be what analysts and some people in the Najib administration are wont to say. And while these may still be early days, the thinking is that by the state not reacting like the over-reactionary hypochondriac that it was last year, people would be dissuaded from attending the third instalment of the gathering to call for free and fair elections.
I personally do not think a public relations-produced “velvet glove” can much hide the “iron fist” with which the governing coalition has practised its brand of politics all these years.
To explain what I mean, we only need to remind ourselves of the speed and stealth employed by the Government in passing the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 last year, much to the dismay and chagrin of human rights activists and legal watchdogs both here and abroad; and just wait until the so-called “ISA replacement bills” are put forward in this session of Parliament - already various bodies are calling for the Najib administration to tread carefully, e.g. the Bar Council has cautioned that the term “security offences” - which include an act that is prejudicial to national security or public safety - is currently too wide.
And let’s not even start with that PSC report.
In the final analysis, the only transformation on show here is of the Decepticon kind.
Nor will a public relations-induced “velvet touch” make many people reconsider supporting Bersih 3.0.
The cautious fashion with which various ministers are already stating the official (sometimes conflicting) position(s) - for example, Nazri says Bersih 3.0 is kosher and the organisation need only speak with the owners of Dataran Merdeka, whereas Hishammuddin has asked Ambiga and A Samad Said to check in with the police first - is a foreshadowing of what is to come, in the days leading up to April 28 2012.
No matter the “glove” or the “touch”, I, for one, will be attending this rally.
The reason is fairly simple - since the end of 2010, I have been working for Lembah Pantai member of Parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar. And since then, I have come to witness the panoply of problems that beset the electoral roll: total postal voters in 2008 was 146; up until the 3Q11, there was a jump to over 2,100 (an increase of 1,400%) - where did all these policemen come from? Of these, 457 of postal voters come from Pusat Tahanan Sementara Bukit Jalil, which was a locality in the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary constituency; strangely, this “island of postal voters” will now vote in Lembah Pantai, even though it sits some 7km away from the border; in the physical copy of an electoral roll we received from Election Commission itself, there was a voter by the name of “Balai Polis Kerinchi”.
There are five addresses in Lembah Pantai where over 100 names are registered to vote per address.
Some voters had recently been shifted either into Lembah Pantai (Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s case comes to mind) or out (one voter complained to me personally that he was moved without his knowledge to now vote in Tg Malim).
This is just Lembah Pantai. Multiply this by 222 parliamentary constituencies, and an umpteenth more of state seats, and you’ll start to understand the magnitude of this maelstrom.
And so, dear reader, we must come out in support of Bersih 3.0 on April 28. For a cleaner, freer, fairer, and better elections. For a better democracy. For a better Malaysia.