Peaceful is as peaceful does | Selangor Times
Issue 118


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Peaceful is as peaceful does
Writer: Azmi Sharom
Published: Fri, 18 Jan 2013

AS I was sitting in Merdeka Stadium on Saturday with a couple of friends, watching the venerable old lady of independence fill up with people, I playfully wondered if  photographers from the mainstream media had been there earlier to take a photo of an empty stadium to be used as “evidence” that no one turned up.1

Well, they did not do that, but the spinning of the event was only slightly less repulsive than my imagination. 

Amongst the English language papers, the most generous coverage reported on how it was a peaceful rally. Little or nothing was said about the implications of this rally and much was said about how wonderful the police were.

Let me talk about the second point first. 

A question that struck me is this: what was the difference between the Jan 12 rally and the ones before? Well, the answer I came up with is that in the past, trouble only occurred when the police did not allow people to gather peacefully. 

In other words, I do not think that Malaysians are inclined to riot and do damaging things. It is only when heavy-handed tactics are used that things get out of hand. If you can call people running for their lives choking on tear gas “out of hand”.

January 12 has shown up the government to be the paranoid bully boy that it is. Cooking up excuses to prevent peaceful gatherings and then taking such drastic measures that it appears that their self-fulfilling prophecies have come true. 

The people of this country are by and large peace loving and when left to their own devices are not going to get up to mischief.

And please spare me the smug comments about how Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s wonderful Peaceful Assembly Act is the reason the rally went so well. The Act was in place when the participants of Bersih 3 got gassed and beaten. 

The reason why the rally was peaceful is because the police was peaceful.

The other point that was not covered by the mainstream press is the implications of this rally. 

The one theme that I gathered from the speeches of the majority of non-political party speakers was that the time for taking a neutral stance is over. 

The clarion call was very clear, from the labour movement, the student movement, the orang asli network, the socially marginalised, the mother tongue educationists; it is time to change government if things are to improve.

And judging by the size of the crowd, only the most delusional will come to the conclusion that this rally is not a clear sign that this call for change has very broad support.

The time for such mega rallies is now surely over; at least for the moment. People have lives to lead and it does take a lot of time, resources and energy for the organisers as well as the participants for such things. It is now time to do the talking via the ballot box.

If Pakatan Rakyat has any sense they will build on the momentum of this gathering, get their act together and go all out in pushing forward their vision of the future of this country and how they are the best people not to just defeat BN; but to lead.


 Selangor Times



Also by Azmi Sharom:

Ethics, morals needed more than ever

SOMETIMES reading the news makes one rush to the bathroom for a long hot shower. 


We live in warped logic

DON’T get it. I just don’t get it.

Greater professionalism in police

Rotating parties for better governance

IN my last article I wrote about the importance of changing the system of local government that we have. By that I meant we should reintroduce local government elections as well as overhaul the Local Government Act in order to ensure a more transparent and accountable local authority.

Importance of local government elections

THE Batu Caves condominium project has raised some interesting talking points. The most obvious of these, the one taken up by the many comments I have read on the internet, is the sheer bald faced cheek of the BN government.

Can bully boy tactics win?

Oh what a glorious night! Twenty-three years of humiliation, with nothing but self-deprecating humour to comfort oneself, finally laid to rest on that one glorious night.

New wine, old wineskin

It is telling that during the Suhakam inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 rally a police officer revealed when questioned that he did not know that the right to assemble was constitutionally guaranteed for the people of this country.

Really, you can’t make it up

Rais Yatim should be given a present from people like myself who write current affairs articles. 

Scripts for Tinseltown

Hollywood, having run out of ideas, has turned to Malaysia for inspiration. Below are two potential blockbuster movies which draw their plots from the pages of Malaysia’s newspapers.

And so it begins...

The scare tactics that are so beloved by the ruling coalition. We have seen it before of course. Like an evil babysitter, the BN has constantly thrilled at telling horror stories to keep us in our place.

Only the uncaring will not care

If the government is not quaking in their boots after last weekend, then they must be in total denial.

Informed, not phony, reasons work better

There have been two consistent arguments used by the Barisan to persuade the electorate to vote for them. The first and more popular claim is that we should vote for them because they have experience.

Nation of idiots in the making

We are on the brink of becoming a nation of idiots.

When silence implies consent

Hope Springs eternal

THIS year, the most amazing political event to have occurred in the world could very arguably be the Arab Spring. Popular uprisings all over the Middle East have seen dictatorships fall like ten-pins in the centre of of a camel race. The process continues still.


Lack of respect for the Constitution

It’s quite apt that it was during a mass circumcision ceremony that Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz made his announcement that Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 is going to be removed. We, the people of Malaysia, just like the poor little nippers at that ceremony, are going to be rid of something.











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