Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Supporting Bersih 2.0: It’s personal

Opinion

Hafidz Baharom is a social observer who has rankled more than a few feathers. He has written for a number of publications, and is always looking to stir up discussions on things which need to be said.
June 21, 2011--The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 21 — 2008 was the first time I voted, and this was in the state of Selangor, in its capital city of Shah Alam. At the time, I was given the choice, in terms of Parliament members, of either voting for a person the same age as John McCain who had been given a “safe” seat, or vote for a person whose brother in Johore is as honest and true to his conscience in voting.

Of course, one point against the latter was that he was from PAS. However, when you have an 80-year-old aunt from Wangsa Maju suddenly calling you to vote for Umno, you know something’s up, right?

For those of you who have been reading this column for some time now, you would have noticed that I never support illegal gatherings, especially a mass protest in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. In fact, I do believe I got some heat a while back for this stance, particularly from people stating the importance of the freedom of speech and how it was the police’s fault that there were massive traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur.

This year, I will be taking part in Bersih 2.0’s march in Kuala Lumpur. And for me, the reasons are somewhat personal.

First and foremost, it’s because the area of Shah Alam, where I live, has been besieged and taken over people the likes I have never before been seen in my 28 years of existence, of which 24 were spent in this town eg. people carrying cow heads.

There has never been people stomping on the picture of an elected official in the area of the State Mosque, and there sure as hell weren’t teenagers being shot execution style by the police in Glenmarie or while fleeing to the safety of the homes.

In fact, there hadn’t been any incidents of people falling out of government offices leaving behind a family either.

And the saddest part of all this is the fact that the police and their counterparts, supposed maintainers of civil order, are the ones who have in fact done nothing. That isn’t bias. That is just injustice of the most disgusting kind.

Bersih will be a march for electoral reform, there will be no question about that. I will be joining the march for electoral reform because I believe this is the only way that I can voice my displeasure towards a government and their police force which have clearly proven their inconsistencies politically, financially and even on a social justice level.

As we have seen, the government, particularly Umno, is indeed scared of what may happen. And the reason behind this is simple. They were the ones protesting in the 40s.

They are now afraid and have gotten too comfortable in their seats of power that they have forgotten what it is to fear the power of the people, a similar notion brought to life during the Hartal and protests in the 1940s, which led to the banning of communism and socialism at the time.

And we can see this fear reflected not only in the mainstream media, but also through the actions of their cronies, the so-called independent coalition.

Frankly, Ibrahim Ali is as independent as an Aedes mosquito spreading dengue. He’s gone after gays, and when that didn’t pan out, he went after every non-Malay in this nation, even publishing that disgusting flyer of Ambiga, highlighting her as a “Hindu woman” who is a threat to public harmony.

The government can threaten all they want. The police can threaten all they want. The not-so-independent coalition can threaten all they want. My stance is simple; if they had want this protest under control, they could have simply give a permit and monitor it.

Since the police and the government through the Home Minister have refused to do so, then I guess the only way to face them is head on with headlights and horns blaring.

So as I’ve said, this time it’s personal. I will be marching alongside Bersih members from NGOs and political parties but moreover, I will be marching with other Malaysians who are just sick of the way this government is running this country and truly do want the electoral process to be reformed.

So if you see a fat gay guy wearing pink and brandishing a giant yellow golf umbrella, just know that’s no plainclothes policeman.

They wouldn’t be caught dead wearing pink.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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