Loyal Followers

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bersih – my final thoughts

Wise men profits more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.” – Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC) from Plutarch, Lives.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake that the government had made in the Bersih issue was to isolate a large section of the society from itself, anger them and convert them into a Bersih sympathiser and/or supporter.

At some point of time before the Bersih rally – in my opinion it was about the time Pak Samad Said was hauled to the police station – the Bersih movement had transcended its electoral reform objective into a full scale platform for the people to vent their frustrations, disappointments, angst and anger to the government.

To put it crassly, from that point of time, Bersih became a platform for many people to show their middle finger to the government, for whatever personal reason(s) they may have.

All the government had to do in the early days of Bersih 2.0 was to deal with Bersih and its demands. The demands were not about the escalating inflation and price of household items; not about Teoh Beng Hock or Sarbaini; not about corruption; not about electricity rate hike; not about Astro price hike; not about the police, MACC or whichever agency.

The demands were just about a fair and just election or what was perceived by Bersih as such. That was it. It was politically related but not politically motivated. (For the uninitiated, there is a difference between the two). The fact that some opposition political parties were in solidarity with Bersih did not demote Bersih into a political party with the inevitable and attendant political baggage. 

The premise of Bersih was an idea, a thought. The idea was our election process is not fair. The resulting conclusion from that idea was that our electoral process needs reform or at least a change. That was all.

Being an idea, or a thought, Bersih operates and infects the masses insidiously. It is in their head that the idea is planted. It is not in their behaviour. A Bersih sympathiser or supporter, with the said planted idea, would not act in a way an Al-Qaeda member would. He or she was not going to strap C4 around his or her body, go to the mall on a Sunday, and buy the proverbial ticket to heaven by blowing himself or herself up.

Planted with that idea, a Bersih sympathiser or supporter would try to convince others that that idea was correct. That idea will infest and continue to infest.

The wearing of yellow t-shirts with the word Bersih was just a way or means employed by carrier of such idea to make known that he or she subscribed to that idea to the open world.

The yellow t-shirts were not even a manifestation of the idea which he or she carried.  With or without the yellow t-shirts, the idea still infests their mind. Similarly, the colour of the t-shirts, did not matter. It could have been pink for all they cared but the idea stayed the same. 

The idea, as I said earlier, was that the election process is not fair and it needs reform.

And so, this was what, allegorically, the government was facing about a month before the rally. There were some yellow mosquitoes flying around in some wet markets; shopping malls; seminar rooms and on the streets. That was it. Nothing more.

It was like the proverbial bloody fly in the car cockpit. Irritating, yes. Annoying, yes. Threatening, absolutely not.

And how exactly did the government react to these handful yellow mosquitoes? Well, it took out some really large and heavy cannons and shot the mosquitoes!

The government firstly denied that our election process was not fair. That was okay. Because by doing that, the government was actually trying to supplant an opposing idea. But what it did later was beyond rationale. Any strategist, political or otherwise, worth his or her salt,  would cringe in disbelief.

It went out seizing the yellow t-shirts. People who wore the offending attire were arrested. How did arresting people wearing yellow and seizing the yellow item assist in erasing the idea which Bersih had planted? The idea was in the head. That idea did not reside in the yellow t-shirts.  That was  the government reacting according to the proverbial “marahkan nyamuk kelambu dibakar” (loosely translated, angry with the mosquitoes, burn the mosquito net) way.

First, the public reaction was one of disbelief. Soon it became a joke. The government, the police, the Home Minister and all else who were perceived to be the instigators of the act of banning the colour yellow became a big joke.

The joke then became even a bigger joke. That was when the government and its machinery, direct and indirect, embarked into phase two of their “war propaganda”.

I have stated in The Doctor is Not In that an oppressor would cling to every “fact”, even manufactured ones, to justify its oppression. I quoted Umberto Eco, in "Turning Back The Clock" who said:

"In general, in order to maintain popular support for their decisions, dictatorships point the finger at a country, group, race, or secret society that is plotting against the people under the dictator. All forms of populism, even contemporary ones, try to obtain consensus by talking of a threat from abroad, or from internal groups." (emphasis is mine).

How true is that? Umberto Eco could have been talking about Malaysia actually. Did he have a digital crystal ball or what?

Barely recovering from shaking our collective head over the arrest of people wearing yellow, the government went into ape mode. Bersih was infiltrated by communists. It was also funded by Christian groups. Some Ministers and the police then said there were evidence that Bersih had certain “foreign elements” bent on creating havoc and overthrowing the government.

All classic wartime propaganda. But really, who was at war? Nobody except for the government.

Sticking with the “war” theme, the government’s well known, but the most laughable and idiotic shit stirrer, Perkasa and its leader, Ibrahim Ali, launched a counter movement and called themselves Gerak Aman (Peace Movement, in English), with Ibrahim Ali as its “war general.”

So, we had a peace movement with a war general. And a war general without any war to go to. He then promptly issued a really peaceful statement, ie, the Chinese had better stocked up food and not come out to the street on July 9th.

This was followed by some silat organisations declaring that it will “wage war” against Bersih participants. The next day this organisation appointed itself as the “3rd line of defence” of Malaysia, an appointment which was duly accorded official approval by none other than the Prime  Minister himself later.

At this point in time, the government’s handling of the Bersih issue had moved from disbelief-dom, to jokes-ville and now to a surreal and burlesque town. The government had then managed to anger the Bersih sympathisers and supporters; isolated the Christians and Chinese; and turned itself into some kind of a mixture of Robin Williams and Russell Brand (no insult meant to Katy Perry, of course).

Ambiga, the  Chairperson of Bersih was instantaneously declared as an enemy of Islam. Quite how Bersih’s electoral reform agenda became intertwined with race and faith is quite beyond many to conjure. But enemy of Islam she was. That managed to isolate the non-Muslims and even the  thinking Muslims from the government’s stance.

So, after that, the pesky yellow mosquitoes problem had turned into a full scale stampede of biblical proportion, joined in by the elephants, lions, tigers, snakes and what have you. Congratulations.

The climax of all of these – the mother of all fcuk ups – to me, was the mounting of roadblocks during the morning peak hours from Wednesday the 6th of July onwards. The object of this “war counter propaganda” tactic was obviously to make the people believe that they had to go through difficulties – ie the traffic jam – because of Bersih. Shallow does not even begin to describe this action.

By this time, even the normal apathetic middle-class Malaysians who could not even be bothered to register themselves as voters became agitated and upset.

This apathetic middle-class are a very comfortable lot. They will not move their ass to do anything if that would mean bringing themselves out of their comfort zone. Finding the TV remote control is bringing themselves out of  their comfort zone, to these people. They will not be arsed to do anything until and unless they become uncomfortable.

And of course, being stuck in a traffic jam in their second-hand BMWs, Benz, Alphard  and whatever was uncomfortable to them. And they told themselves, enough with this crap. I am going to show my middle finger to the police!

By this time, almost the whole section of the urban society was isolated by the government. Even the civil servants who were late for work were thinking of joining the rally.

Speaking of the police, apart from being busy carrying guns and waving the traffic to pass by, they managed to find parangs and molotov cocktails at Sogo. There you  have it. Bersih was bent on creating havoc.

Why parangs? Why not guns and bombs? And to think about it, the molotov cocktails were made in plastic bottles. Who in their right mind would make molotov in plastic bottles, hullo? From which university did the guy graduate? Off campus? Online course?

Disbelief. Joke. Burlesque. Ridicule. Anger.

What a transformation.

The easiest thing to do was to fight the idea that our election process needs reform. That was all that was needed. An idea is fought by firstly, showing that that idea is not quite correct. Or that it was not credible. Then neutralise that idea with a better and more acceptable idea.

An idea is not fought by arresting the people having that idea. Or by banning a colour depicting subscription to  that idea. Or by declaring the person heading the movement perpetuating that idea as anti-Islam. Or that it was Christian idea. Oh my God. Fail!

Now, let’s not talk about what happened during the rally. Suffice if I say that the people joining the rally were not the hooligans they were made out to be. We all could watch all the YouTube videos and decide for ourselves as to who the real hooligans were.

The thing which I want to comment about is this.

If the government’s handling of Bersih before the rally was beyond belief in its irrationality and unreasonableness, its handling AFTER the rally is not any better, if not far worse.

The IGP became a laughing stock when he quickly announced that only 6000 people attended the rally. Then the Home Minister chipped in to say the police was fair and in fact very restrain in their approach on the 9th of July. The Prime Minister said the police were a picture of tranquillity and displayed a monk-like attitude towards the rally goers.

Ha ha and bloody ha.

Then came the I-could-do-better-than-you rhetoric. This is the preferred 8 year old strategy. My father has bigger kahoona than your father, you know? I could bring out 3 million people if I want to, sais the Honourable Prime Minister. This was recently followed up by Chua Soi Lek who said he could bring 50000 Chinese to the street. MIC however had remained mum. That’s either because it is a clever party or because it doesn’t know how many member it could bring to the street.

The Minister Liow denied teargas was fired into the compound of Tung Shin hospital. Chua Soi Lek, not be left out, chipped in to say the police had to teargas the hospital in order to protect the patients. And today, 11 doctors from that hospitals states their willingness to affirm affidavits under oath that the police did in fact shoot water and teargas into the compound of the hospital on July 9th. They said the police even entered into the buildings to search for rally goers. (the full report is here).

In relation to the incident at Tung Shin, faced with irrefutable audio-visual as well as oral evidence, the least the government could do is to admit that it happened. Then it should apologise. Even YB Khairy Jamaluddin this morning had the clarity of mind to say that on twitter.


The Prime Minister had left for the UK. The mainstream media went ape-like in blaming Anwar and mocking his injury. This obsession with Anwar Ibrahim is actually quite irritating. let me tell you all something. Most rally goers did not give a hoot about Anwar that day. That day was not about Anwar. It was about their middle finger which they had wanted to point to some others.

The international press – which of course, in the government’s book, are always bias and out to pursue their secret agenda against our country – have not been kind to the government. Even the Jakarta Post editorial (Malaysia is rich but not free) was not flattering. Yesterday, Bloomberg’s William Pesek was scathing in his opinion. Pesek is an influential writer and Bloomberg is a reference  point for many foreign investors. (his article is here). The UN thinks the government had gone way over the top. The US is concerned.

So, what’s the plan here? What is the plan to bring back credibility to our reform plan? Where is the plan to persuade the foreign fund managers and investors that Malaysia is indeed a moderate multi-cultural society with immaculate tolerance for dissent?

Someone died during the rally. Have we heard a word of sympathy or condolence from the government’s side? I have not. All we had was the usual defensive “don’t blame me” statements.

Are we human? Or have we stopped being human?

Since when?


Raison D'etre said...

Nicely put, Art.

Even today, Utusan is going all gun ho about people putting on anything yellowish (those with gold tooth better watch out) on Saturdays!

Freaking fearful fingered flopheads, really.

God knows why. We have our suspicions, I suppose, and we'll see if this is true come GE13, eh?

Anonymous said...

Hey Art, this piece is a good one.
Hilarious yet factual, welldone man!

Anonymous said...

SUHAKAM's inquiry on polis !??
In 2000 , I was its VICTIM of humiliation when they , chairman was Musa , called me up all the way from Ipoh for their very 1st historic inquiry !!

Anonymous said...

nicely put. Enjoyed reading this piece of truth and couldnt agree with you more.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't interested in Bersih until it was decreed as a Christian-sponsored Communist conspiracy. I went to Jln. Pudu last Saturday to see for myself how a Christian Communist looks like. Yes, I saw an elderly Chinese lady wearing yellow t-shirt holding a white flower...she sure was a scary, threatening Christian Commie.

sammywho!? said...

well said. u deserved a round of applause.
can't help but to agree on this.

Anonymous said...

my final,final take on Bersih 2.0:
rosmah kalah, Ambiga menang.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese attended Bersih 2 in large number compares to previous rallies; I guess Bersih 2 steering committee has to thank Katak Ali for this.
The Chinese were showing the middle finger to Katak Ali on 9th July 2011 after the clown threatened them not to attend the rally but stay home and hoard food .

Anonymous said...


You are my man.......

ygbenor said...

Gua tabik sama lu. Brilliant just brilliant from someone with a bersih heart. Bersih as in a clean honest forgiving heart.

Anonymous said...

well said art! i've always try to find some closure after being criticized from friends for supporting bersih.here i am reading ur article and my spirit is lifted.

clangan said...

Art, good one!

Anonymous said...

Mr Harun, love the way you think, what you write and how you write it.

Anonymous said...

I and my family are going to wear yellow until BERSIH demands are met and fulfilled by the Election Commission.

For everyone's info, yellow is also the royal colour of the Raja and Sultan.

Yellow is also the robes of Monks and peaceful emmissaries.

Funny though, UMNO BARU's flag unlike the opposition has yellow, red and white.

And the funniest part of all is that the Motto of the RMP is "BERSIH, Cekap, Amanah"

watchdog said...

We stopped being human from the time of Mahathir.

Anonymous said...

Another good well thought out and written piece. I can especially relate to this part
"And of course, being stuck in a traffic jam in their second-hand BMWs, Benz and whatever was uncomfortable to them. And they told themselves, enough with this crap. I am going to show my middle finger to the police!"

Yeah me stuck on my second-hand BMW.

Rovin Hood said...

Excellent piece ART !!!

We really have a lot of NINCOMPOOPS running the government. Sigh...

rej59 said...

Thanks Art that ws juz great.
U summed it beautifully.

N the score stands at:

I for one wud hav hated to see my face in the mirror ever if I had not been in KL on 907.

Gosh I wish dis feelin inside me goes on forever.

May the FORCE be with BERSIH

Anonymous said...

Art, masterpiece as usual! Cant put it any better.

Just wanna put in my 2 cents worth of analysis.

From the stance shown pre/post rally, its quite clear they are solely for votes, nothing else matter.

Specifically, it's the rural votes they are after. I think since our 1Malaysia PM took over, they have already discounted the urban votes wholesale.

Take a look at the MSM, it's just unbelievable, even literally.

It's notable that the heightened rhetoric from MSM and likes of Ibrahim coincide with the new reign of our beloved 1Malaysia PM.

A coincidence perhaps?

You tell me.

Anonymous said...

"Pesek is an influential writer and Bloomberg is a reference point for many foreign investors."

No problem with foreign investments. Just invite more Lynas kind of plants and give them 12 year tax breaks! All solved!

Anonymous said...

This takes the cake "Chua Soi Lek, not be left out, chipped in to say the police had to teargas the hospital in order to protect the patients"

Protect the patients from what? From the tear gas, fists and kicks from the protestors?

Or the colour yellow potentially causes bodily harm?

Anonymous said...


There's no turning back by Najib and his administration. They have spun so many unbelievable lies that they have to continue spinning even more ridiculous ones to cover the previous ones. Najib and his administration is doomed if the country goes to the polls anytime soon. Najib and his gang will continue to delay the polls while at the same time create even more diversions to confuse the Malaysian public.

Malaysians have to come out in full force and vote wisely even if it means voting in an election where the election commission is biased and partisan towards Najib and the ruling government. We have to believe that we shall overcome the odds and show Najib and his cohorts our big middle finger in the next elections.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis. Umno goons can never think like that. That's why they always screw up again and again. My final thoughts -- BN kalah in GE13!

rob said...


I am numb then dumbfounded and now ANGRY by the reactions post 907.

Firstly I have always felt that Jibby and gang will use the MIB to whack the day-lights out of the rally goers in order to teach them and rest of the rakyat who is not under their influence. Dissents not allowed while they continue to rape and pillage the country.

ANGRY because with all the evidences PM and his stooges are still gesticulating, postulating, foaming at the mouth and being total imbeciles.

ANGRY because people of dubious quality and integrity is running the country.

ANGRY because there are people still towing those verbal garbage and lies spewed by those so-called fellow homo-sapiens.

ANGRY because there is no apologies nor remorse nor admission of errors (guilt would be like getting blood out of stone). Not even an iota of apologies.

I wish that they will be buried in the GE13 landslide.

Now let me cool down with a cool tall one ...

Anonymous said...

You took the words right out of my mouth....but made it sound way more expressive, logical, intelligent and honest ! Thank you.

SpeakRantWhatever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SpeakRantWhatever said...

Hi Art, thanks for this piece.
Love it! Beautifully written with candour and you've just made swearing classy! :)

Claire said...

Art, I might have re-post/ share your articles before without asking....hope you don't mind...if you do..I apologize..but can I share this one? he he he it's a really good read. :-)

Leithaisor said...

It has been said that if you give a man enough rope, he'd hang himself with it.

I dare say that is exactly what Najib has been doing,

BERSIH 2.0 is but the latest in a series of self-inflicted disasters born of eyes blinded by a delusional sense of capability and power. I'd say he pretty much hanged himself politically with all the powerful ropes he had his his hands.

Classic example - Just look at his swaggering "I am Prime Minister of Malaysia!" attempt to win Sibu with his RM 5 million "You help me, I help you" offer delivered with continual swipping of his mouth.

In other countries, politicians have has to tender their resignations for less.

But his vile record stretches back years. Personally I still count TPCA Stadium 1987 against him.

Together with his cousin Hishamuddin, I find it untterly impossible to say anything good to say about how they handled BERSIH 2.0.

I was just telling my son after dinner tonight about the Peterson Principle. Najib and Hisham have ascended to positions way beyond their level of incompetence.

And on their watch, we have the self-proclaimed "war-general" puffing and huffing his racist spiel, born-again Khairy trying to ssy right-sounding words (I remember his Gerak Gempur antics at Ijok!), Chua & Liow defending the indefesible and even the IGP having problems with simple counting.

If the cost to the nation, and to Baharudin's family in particular, has not been so painful, I'd laugh at the sad comedy.

elizabeth said...

I like what KJ said, that BN should be truthful about the hospital episode. Of course he added that evidence is immense. Wonder what KJ would recognise if there is less evidence? This is the problem with UMNO. They think they are god. They think they own Malaysia, all of it. In the TBH case, it could have been an invetigation gone wrong... well, if they had just admit the mistake, punish the people who commited the wrong, apologise to the family, Malaysians would be less angry with them. UMNO is arrogant, quite beyond redemption..

Anonymous said...

Ambiga memang termenang & ros terkalah BUT dia terdapat a 'blue-gray diamond ring' costing about rm75,000,000.00 ...WOW !!

Anonymous said...

well said, hope u don mind me sharing this out on fb.

Anonymous said...

Well written - I want to share this on fb - thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is not a just any write-up, it is not a good one but rather a helluva orgasmic one !!... cheers and salute to Art

selson said...

what can i say ..........damm good

Anonymous said...

Dear Art,
Indeed, a very beautiful piece of
evaluation. Very precise,spot-on and
mind-pricking. Sad that the BN has dug its own grave and now appears beyond salvage. Perkasa was the grave-digger,supervise and design by
our Hisham and approved by Najib.
Utusan helps in the obituary page with echo from the Star and NST.

Anonymous said...

You just simplify every massage of bersih with your words ART!!

Great piece of ART!!!


Kris said...

Our Prime Minister has stated " There was no actual physical contact with the demonstrators..." And we all know now that that was a lie....

Art you ask why has there been no remorse, nor even some accountability? This is because this is a government that has long since stopped caring about anything least of all the country and it's people...except for themselves. It was an uplifting day to see so many ordinary everyday Malaysians come together for a common good. The brutal barbarism that day should not have happened and any right thinking individual would feel some sense of sadness at what transpired. Unless that was the plan all along. To beat people into submission. To beat Malaysians and Malaysia into submission so we would bend to their will... And to be cowed into accepting whatever they did.....As is now obvious though, no one was.

You also asked why they didn't handle it better. Without the heavy handedness but rather a mature government in resonance with the aspirations of it's people. Bullies don't know any other way. Whenever they bullied they got what they wanted. Conditioned responses from both sides. But while the bully gradually becomes more content thinking this will always work what they don't account for is the rising anger and discontent of the victim(s). Bullies can't bully forever, they just never realise that....

Anonymous said...

Just love the way you write Art am a fan.... As usual another good piece

Anonymous said...

Kudos!! You are a fantastic writer!God gave you a great thinking mind.

dolphintales said...

I'm not fanatically political given that I am not based in Malaysia. But have been following the Bersih 2.0 fiasco since.

What I am trying to understand about our government is - how can it be so... I dunno, dumb? I mean, surely in this day and age in Malaysia itself, where we have international professional and educated agencies and hire these professional PR firms to do a campaign or an ad agency to strategize a communications framework to ensure correct communications is communicated to its target audience - whether or not perception is greater than reality that is another story...the government surely must have a more intelligent team to strategize "image building" and crisis communications? SURELY the government CANNOT be having a team of morons strategizing these for them??

How the hell did they get to this stage? Really? Anyone has an answer?

Anonymous said...


How the hell did they get to this stage?'

The current M'sia govt has reached the stage of irrational FEAR.

The Arab Spring initiates that spark. The closet skeletons fan that sense further into a psychological flame of fear.

& I've a theory about FMOM's come-what-may attitude of staying in power. Najib needs just a little hen-picked nag to toe her line.

Thus all the paid APCO's or whoever's advices of soft & reasonable approaches were met with a hard NO.

A take-no-nonsense precedence must be set so that there would not be any further challenges from these low-life (yes, that's what we r in their collective eyes).

So any wonder THAT back-fired?

Perhaps, there is much wisdom in the saying that when a terrorizing regime is going to fall, there is always a woman involved.

FMOM vs Ambigs, that's it!

manfrommachap said...

TWhat you had wrote in so many words, the beloved Agong put it in a plain and simpler ways and in spite, Najib, Hishamuddin did not understand or choose not to understand. He says:

1. Najib to handle this with wisdom. And by this, force is never a wise choice,

2. Not to emulate too much from western countries. Means that HRH knows his people well enough to know that the people are forever willing to compromise.Najib went the other way by slandering his own citizens

3. Executing one's right to rally is enshrined in the constitution but it has to be an orderly demonstration which HRH then blessed it to be done in a stadium.Najib prefers to renegadeby imposing impossible conditions.

4. Not to have a fraction of the citizens have a grave animosity towards the government since the people are peace loving. Najib instead declared war and hired war mercenaries to serve his intentions.

CandyDandy said...

I love this article. And you. Well put!

Syazzies said...

Well said. Couldnt agree more.

justicenequality said...


Malaysians from all walk of life, colour, religion and creed, have shown to the world that they do Care for the Country. They do have Conscience, Fairplay, Justice n Equality.

There is yet still hope for the Future for us rather than migrate.

Anonymous said...


this is a HILARIOUS but PERTINENT to the matter of fact!
can you post this to malaysiakini or malaysianinsider so we can have some dose of humour before the we are all succumbed to the claws of political evil?

many greetings from BRAINDRAIN

Anonymous said...

big mouth small brain, this article has no factual data just a liberal malay "muslim" exaggerated opinion

Anonymous said...

artie fartie

you conveniently left out the FACT that bershit is an unregistered therefore illegal entity

also ambiga told the whole world "no street march" after meeting the Agong - so she LIED?

bershit also did not apply for permit to use the stadium

the 6k rioters, ooops marchers, is representative of the people??

the right to assemble should not jeopardise the safety of others

Now you tell us that EVERY ONE of these marchers did it for electoral reforms

why were there shouts of reforBASI, down with BN, Allah is great

berani tanggong kah?

armchair critic!!

Anonymous said...

another SANE and SENSIBLE educated view (in comparison to artie fartie)


art harun said...

To the last 3 Anons;

Let me recount your counter arguments. Hmmm....

big mouth
small brain
liberal malay "muslim"
exaggerated opinion
artie fartie
armchair critic

Okay. Allow me to give you all my rebuttal.

Erm...oh, sorry. I can't. Because those are not arguments.


currypuff said...

Art, you are a man of good sense.

I thank God for having people like you in this country.

hurricanemax said...

Governance under a bunch of 'elite' ruling thieves, is a governance of corruption, rob-the-country, and the hell-with-the-population style. That downfall started 22yrs ago and it has been poorly copied since.

I want a BERSIH governance.

Touché Art. You got it spot on!

doni said...