While all of us, citizens and the police alike, are going completely bonkers about the planned rally by BERSIH on 9th July, allow me to touch on the subject a bit today.
The government has surely gone drunken-ape about this planned rally. It has, among others, declared that yellow t-shirts with the word BERSIH printed on them are illegal. The IGP, feeling left out, later chipped in to warn that buses, shoes and umbrellas with markings which support the rally – which according to him is an illegal act – is seditious. See here and here for full reports respectively.
And so people wearing t-shirts are arrested. The word BERSIH has become a dirty one. Activists have also been arrested.
The police on the other hand has been busy churning out ridiculous amount of laughing gas every time it attempted to justify the clampdown on the planned rally. Firstly, they claimed it was a communist plot to overthrow the government. Then it was the fact that BERSIH was being funded by Christian groups who are of course – what else? – anti-Islam. And today we have a statement saying there are foreign elements which are threatening to throw the country into chaos during the rally.
God knows what’s the next thing they will come up with. Lord Voldermot and Darth Vader appearing as Ambiga and Hadi Awang?
Meanwhile, our National Laureate, A Samad Said, was called for questioning by the police just for reading 2 paragraphs of his prepared speech. See my post The Tipping Point on this.
Yesterday we had the Persatuan Silat whatever declaring to wage war against the BERSIH rally goers. Before that we have Ibrahim Ali telling the Chinese to stock up food. While Pak Samad was promptly hauled up to the police station for a 90 minute tete-a-tete for reading some very nice prose calling for social justice, I wonder why statements which wage war and provoking the Chinese are not investigated with the same vigour or at all by the police.
It is this kind of double standard which nauseates me and many others, I must say.
The truth is the police and the Home Ministry could just work with the organisers of the rally to ensure a peaceful and orderly rally. After all, the police’s fundamental duty is to protect the society and to ensure peace. It’s duty is not to prevent citizens from exercising their rights under the Constitution.
I remember after the now infamous cow head protest in Shah Alam, the police explained why their officers just stood guard and did not prevent the rally that Friday. I remember the police saying that they did not stop the rally because they feared it might cause more anger. And so they just stood like statues looking at the rally goers carrying a bloodied cow head while chanting racially provocative statements.
What is the difference between that and the planned BERSIH rally? Why can;t the police do the same. Stand guard. Ensure public safety.
I also remember what the Home Minister said after that protest. Here it is.
Yes. The Home Minister sat with the protesters after the protest. He totally understood their grievance. “They just wanted their voices to be heard”, says him.
Well, I suppose BERSIH and those who are planning to join the rally also have voices to be heard and they quite obviously want their voices to be heard. I am sure the Home Minister can afford the same courtesy which he accorded the cow head protesters to BERSIH and those who plan to join the rally, no?
In this respect, I am pleased to note that Ambiga, the Chairperson of BERSIH has agreed to see the IGP to try and find a win-win solution to this impasse. I do hope some kind of agreement could be achieved from this meeting. I am happy to note that the IGP is willing to talk to Ambiga as well.
On a totally unrelated matter, I remember the Prime Minister asking all of us to tighten our belt. I also remember Minister Idris Jala warning us that Malaysia might go bankrupt if subsidies are not reviewed and cut soon.
Recently of course we saw the cutting of subsidies for RON97 fuel. Then sugar price went up. And the most recent is the hiking up of electricity rate. Generally, things are just more expensive than before. And we are talking about daily household stuffs here, not handbags, sun glasses or mobile phones.
As such, I am aghast to learn how much our country pays for rentals, electricity charges and water charges for the PM and DPM’s official residences.
Minister Nazri, in a written answer to a question in the Parliament, revealed that a staggering RM160,000 is paid for electricity and RM33,000 for water every month for these two official residences.
In all, the country pays RM32,972,115.55 for rentals, RM3,581,744.78 for renovation works, RM10,267,868.15 for electricity and RM1,967,386.55 for water. See the full report here.
Get that. 10 million bucks for electricity in a year. And 1.9 million bucks for water!
How many Play Stations are there in these two residences? How many swimming pools and water slides are there?
By contrast, Rumah Nursalam, a welfare centre which takes care of about 700 registered children – most are street children around the Chow Kit area – spend about RM50000.00 per month on everything, including food, drinks, electricity, water, staff salaries, programmes and transportation. Their water bill is just RM300 per center per year!
Take just 1% from the 10 million electricity bill and 2 million water bill and give to Rumah Nursalam – which is 120000 – and Rumah Nursalam will be able to survive for TWO years without other donation.
With respect, I find the expenses for the two official residences appalling, to say the least.