By Aliran, on 6 July 2011
Prior to the announcement that the Bersih 2.0 event on 9 July 2011 would be held in a stadium, Home Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein and the police had issued warnings to the ‘rakyat’ not to join the coalition’s “Walk for Democracy” calling for free and fair elections.
The authorities arrested close to 200 peaceful demonstrators including opposition members of parliament, state assembly members, NGO volunteers and members, as well as some children as young as seven years old.
The offices and premises of some NGOs were raided; the Penang Suaram office was broken into by unknown persons, then Bersih’s secretariat in Petaling Jaya was raided by the police. Nothing seems to have been taken from the Penang Suaram office; instead a trail of broken locks and damaged doors was found. The police raided Bersih’s office, without a warrant, and carted away a number of T-shirts, pamphlets, posters, banners and computers. The mainstream media expectedly played up this news, but the exaggeration was too weak to be convincing. The public merely shook their heads at the pettiness of the issue or made cynical jokes about this sandiwara, produced by the Home Ministry in collaboration with Bukit Aman.
The situation typically reflected the idiom, “making a mountain out of a molehill”. In fact, this production is being viewed by the global community with some amazement (maybe amusement too). Foreign aquaintances even asked Malaysians, “So, your government doesn’t want free and fair elections?” – to which the embarrassing answer is, “Yes – our government does not want free and fair elections”. That’s the truth. One cannot defend the indefensible.