Thursday jottings

By Art Harun

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.