28 April 2012, or rather now fondly known numerically as just 428, is the date that will forever be etched into Malaysia’s historical annals.
Nope. Not because some estimated 250,000 Malaysians thronged the streets of KL for a sit-down Bersih 3.0 rally voicing and demanding for free and fair elections.
Nope. Not because thousands of other Malaysians in other states and even all over the world coordinated and participated in similar Bersih 3.0 rallies that synchronized with the one held in KL.
428 will forever be remembered as “The Day Our Govt Ensured Bersih 3.0′s Success”…
After Bersih 2.0 took place on 709, I made some comments in my blog entitled ‘A Tale of Two Rallies‘, which basically provides some insights into what could have happened if the ruling Govt had allowed the rally to go on peacefully vs. what had actually happened.
I believe a similar ‘Sliding Door’ moment arrived in the form of 428 in which the Govt once again chose the path of NOT allowing the rally to go on. In my opinion, this decision is the reason and key factor in ensuring Bersih 3.0′s success. Here’s why:
An estimated 250,000 people braved the traffic congestion and possible roadblocks to enter the streets of KL for the sit-down rally. This would account for probably 1% of the entire Malaysia population. Now, when we consider the other Malaysians from all other states who also coordinated their own Bersih 3.0 rallies within their own states, I would estimate the total number of Malaysians who took to the streets could be in the 3% range.
Using my ‘Sliding Door’ postulation, let’s consider what might have happened if the Govt had allowed the planned sit-down rally to be carried out peacefully; for the PDRM to be deployed to oversee the smoothness and safety of the rally participants; for public transportation to double or triple their rounds to assist participants to get in and out of KL smoothly (can just imagine the revenues doubling or tripling too!); etc. After the rally, all 3% of the participants would have gone home happy, safe and unhurt. Govt could put up some headlines that the rally went smoothly with the assistance and efficient handling and coordination of the PDRM. Rally proves the Govt truly listens to the people because ‘rakyat didahulukan‘…
Nah. Instead, the Govt decided to make things as difficult as possible for the participants to rally that day. Barricades were set up to prevent entry into Dataran Merdeka; Water cannons and tear gases were questionably used on the participants – even those who were already dispersing after the rally; Confiscation of cameras and memory cards from journalists; LRT shutdowns in the evening that inconvenienced participants going home; Censorship of news from foreign channels; Biased reporting in mainstream media of the event; etc.
To the remaining 97% of the Malaysian population who were not directly involved in the rally, I would estimate maybe about 30% were willing and aware but unable to join in the rally. After learning about the horror list of things that was carried out by the Govt before, during and after 428, the remaining 67% of the Malaysian population, who previous couldn’t be bothered about the entire rally or its causes, would most likely stand up and pay attention closer now!
With the advancement of technology in today’s generation, information is highly accessible in the masses. My estimate is that all the decisions and actions taken by the Govt against Bersih 3.0 may have potentially affected 30% of the fence-sitters who could have been sleeping all this while. This would give us roughly 63% of Malaysians ‘awakened’ to the real situation and objectives of Bersih 3.0. Remove all children who are too young to comprehend the situation and we could be looking at a higher percentage of Malaysians that have been enlightened via 428. And we have not even started counting Malaysians residing overseas who staged their own Bersih 3.0 rallies as well! And…THAT, in my books, is surely a SUCCESS for Bersih 3.0