bersih.jpg

And you thought that the authorities have a monopoly on such operations, didn’t you?

It should be common knowledge to the general citizenry that this was a civil society initiative, rather than one done by the ‘opposition’. The BN propaganda machinery was running at top gear to paint the event as such in recent weeks.

On my way back home at about 3 am on Thursday, I spoke with an Indian cab driver and asked him why is he still driving when he should be at home, preparing for the festival. To which he replied, in no uncertain terms, that times are bad so much so that he needed to earn the extra income to make the celebration worthwhile for his family. Then, when I asked him about the peaceful assembly on November 10th, he was under the impression it is a ‘parti pembangkang punya kerja’. Apparently, he heard it on RTM.

Mani, the cab driver, double-charged me for the journey home and I didn’t have the heart to collect the change under the circumstances. We parted ways upon reaching my destination with me wishing him a Happy Diwali which hopefully will compensate for my indiscretion in not putting up a Diwali banner at OBE.

Meanwhile, Zorro did an excellent post (here) where he judiciously outlined the manner in which we should partake in the assembly with the added twist of humbly requesting the Agung to meet the participants and receive the petition at Dataran Merdeka. Zorro’s impassioned plea is understandable with the core purpose of avoiding any untoward incidents on the day. Unfortunately, the Agung’s status must be protected and royal protocol will not allow him such liberties. I do not know if there is a compromise available i.e. whether an appointed representative of the Agung can perform the said function. Suffice to say, we do know that the Agung is prepared to receive the petition at the Istana Negara, a fact that cannot be denied by the current administration.

Question is, will you be there at 3pm onwards to bear witness to this historic event?

I know I will.

Updated: 15 hours to the 10eleven Walk. Jeff Ooi of Screenshots got the following statement from Edmund Bon, chairperson of the Bar Council Human Rights Committee:-

The points made by the IGP are noted. They have been made before. Nevertheless, we have participated and witnessed many assemblies in the country which were planned, and turned out to be peaceful. The last major one of course was the Bar’s ‘Walk for Justice’. A common thread in these assemblies has been the commendable, non-interventionist approach taken by the police, Special Branch and FRU. At the other spectrum, we have seen for example at the Kesas highway and KLCC incidents (both the subject of public inquiries by SUHAKAM), how the authorities have exercised some force in dispersing the crowds, in addition to accounts alleging the involvement of Special Branch in inciting disorder. Not to forget the peaceful protests against the Mynmar government which saw the participation by both government and opposition representatives. It therefore calls on one to be nuanced in discussing similar events, and issuing threats would be less helpful than constructively facilitating assembly rights. Consistent with international human rights law and the state practices of many countries, it also demands that a gradual mindset change be effected in Malaysia by looking to the authorities to assist, rather than to impede the exercise of our rights. The BAR and SUHAKAM oppose the necessity for police permits to assemble, and this position is the way forward if Malaysia is to become a developed nation by 2020. – Edmund Bon 9/11/07.

AAB referred to the assembly, describing it as a ‘demonstrasi jalanan‘ (street protest) on national television. Did he forget that KJ, his son-in-law, led a street protest when Condi Rice was in town? And KJ was again involved in another street protest against the Myanmar government. KJ’s recent call for the police to arrest the participants of 10eleven reeks heavily with the stain of blatant arrogance, nepotism and ‘acquired’ protection, ostensibly, blessed by AAB himself.

10eleven will be documented in our history books as a day of infamy or the re-emergence of the true Merdeka spirit within civil society. No guessing on which one I seek.