June 26, 2011

Can I not make a stand?

For the past two weeks, the word on the street of Malaysia is the Bersih 2.0 which is the sequel to the Bersih demonstration which was organised in 2007. With the help of Wikipedia entry on Bersih 2007, it is done then to hand over a list of demand to our King, the Yang di-Pertuan Agung, considered as the highest authority in a democratic Malaysia. Some say, it was initially started by Hindraf, a group of the minority Indians who were demanding government to elevate their way of life for the better.

The rally was done through word of mouths and short messaging system which was the equivalent of Twitter in those days. Red herrings were used for the group to confuse the authority. The end result, due to the clashes between the protesters and the authority,  you can described the Bersih rally in 2007 in one word : Chaos. The end result they say is the biggest lost the Barisan Nasional government ever had in the General Election 2008.

That is what I know about Bersih (some which is there in the Wikipedia link and some from conversations I had with friends). And I did not participate. As I told my friends and on Twitter, what I remembered about the Bersih rally in 2007 is the joke being told in most of the show by Douglas Lim, a famous Malaysian comedian. It is the Malay and the Indians being the people in the rally but the Chinese couldn't be found as they are the one making money as they are the one selling the yellow t-shirts which were worn by the protesters that day.

And now they are going to do a Bersih 2.0 on 9th of July. Led by the former President of the Bar Council. From what I gather at the start, there was no political element. Just that the opposition was a part of it. Then it became a rallying point for the opposition. Then suddenly there was a road-show to gather support. Then it became global as similar rally is supposed to be done in New York (if I am not mistaken). It was like a Wow! How big can this thing go event. Will we see a Thailand type of revolution which does not go anywhere or like Egypt or Bahrain or Yemen? That is only the Bersih part of it. How about these other two opposing rally by Perkasa-led NGOs and UMNO Youth. Can someone say "Collision course"?

Or will the government managed to contain it? Interesting is the least descriptive word for anyone who is watching the event unfold on the sideline. They have remanded a bunch of people and they have just charged people with trying to restart the communist movement in Malaysia again. The word being used to charge them is "Waging war against the King" which was used once and resulted in an army-like Al-Mau'nah leaders to be hanged and imprisoned for life. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Internal Affairs Minister, the police and various people have issued warning and even issued threats to the rally organiser, to say the least.

People say as a lawyer, you need to be opinionated and you must fight for justice. Yes, that is what people expect a lawyer to be. I was a criminal lawyer once. It was during the most interesting time to in Malaysia politics. The firing of Anwar Ibrahim, the then Deputy Prime Minister and the supposed revolutions which comes after it. Hear the sarcasm in my words. I didn't involved myself in any of the street revolutions happening weekly then. So were most of my friends who are opinionated lawyers too living in Seremban. Although my then business partner was a member of the opposition. Although it was interesting to be there. And I am still a lawyer who considered lawyering as my profession. Am I a bad lawyer to not fight for a cause but just do my job?

So, I post this question on Twitter today : Can I support free speech but not #Bersih?

Here's my conversation on Twitter after I posted that question yesterday. I am using acronyms to protect the identity of all the tweeters who were conversing with me :

JL : Me too RT : Can I support free speech but not ?
RF : Me too. I'm not supporting traffic jams + unnecessary bad press either. “: Can I support free speech but not ?”
SG :Yes, why not. I'm having a change of heart too about . RT : Can I support free speech but not ?
JZ : Interesting Q! RT : Can I support free speech but not ?
S : but elections are not necessary clean so what are you doing about it?
LK : Free movement lah, boss. U dun support BERSIH's 8 requests, eg no corruption, clean elections, etc ?
RF :  XD Hence, the irony of "Bersih". Fighting something dirty with something that will cause a bigger mess.
S :  hmmm i always thought these inconveniences are to be suffered once in a while for the greater good :) :p
RF : Haha...wish they were well planned. Prefer a higher conspiracy of justice more than an annual show ;p
B : so how you think they should fight it so it will not turn into bigger mess?
S : hmmm i always thought these inconveniences are to be suffered once in a while for the greater good :) :p
B : I am alway wary of the 'greater good' part, depending on who, when, how it is said :P
CT : most of the time this "bigger mess" are police-led :D
RF :Takes two hands to clap :)
B : from what I experienced or watched in those rally clips, more like one hand forcing the other to clap
B : that is expected.
B : engaging each other despite some disagreements is a good sign of upholding free speech.
RF : Oh, the other hand clapped back, but it's not a desired response XD
B : hard to clap with unequal hands :P
S : how it is equal? 1 of d hands definitely has more advantages. The body prefers it more to call d shot
B: This requires offline discussion la. Clearly 140 chars isn't enough.
R : i support free speech, n rights to assemble also. if police allow,sure no problem ' Can I support free speech but not ' 
: Just curious how free speech is wholehearted supported by some but selectively by others
I think fr this healthy discussion we can see there is a divide abt how change shud be made
: Online discourse is a start, logistically easy n more participants can join in or at least observe

The simple point I am to make here is that, some just think we already have a clean and fair election. Some think there's a problem with the system but marching around town is not the answer or the solution to repairing it. Some think we need to remind the government of the need to ensure a fair and just election. Some think that ballot boxes is the answer to the problem we are having and 2008 has shown the way by an unprecedented opposition wins over the government they can only dream about. Some just want it to be done and over with. Most actually to me are the silent majority which people keep on harping as the one who really matters.

Oh yes, this is also an opinion. Opinionated enough?

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