Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does Bersih serve a point?

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

Basically we are tired of a unfair election system. We are sick of the fact that the Electoral Commission can draw electoral lines at whim, and we are tired that we are not really sure that our vote counts as it should. Why is it that a DAP Member of Parliament has a constituency of 50,000 people when a BN Member of Parliament has a constituency can only have 10,000 people. This is most obvious in the case of Seputeh, where Teresa Kok received 47,230 votes from 58,207 votes cast versus the case of Putrajaya, where Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor received a majoriry of 2,492 votes out of 5,500 votes. The disparity between seats are staggering.

The sheer disproportion of the drawing of constituencies has to be put in doubt in what has been dubbed as 'gerrymandering'. The most recent example was reported by Malaysiakini in their May 26, 2011 article claiming that 1,210 voters from the Sabak state constituency have been transferred to Sungai Panjang. The most telling statistic is that something is not right with everything at home comes from the most recent 2008 General Election, where Barisan Nasional garnered a simple majority of 50.27% of the popular vote, but held 140 seats or 63.1% in Parliament, as compared to the opposition who garnered 46.75% of the popular vote, but only translates to 82 seats or 36.9% in Parliament. Although it seems like a fair democracy, it is clear that some votes count more than others.

Now, we have Najib, Muyhiddin Yasin, Hishammudin Hussein, Khairy and Ibrahim Ali all jumping into the mix, on one side saying that it is a matter of national security that the march should be stopped and the other side who said that they would march as well. In the mainstream media, the hype continues and it heightens day by day culminating in the arrest of 30 Parti Sosialis Malayia activists accused to be communists, and a youth in Gombak Baru, Kuala Lumpur being arrested for wearing a Berish T-shirt.

So does Bersih really serve a point? The government doesn't like it, the police don't like it nor do the cabbies. It is disruptive to public order and it will bring Kuala Lumpur to a standstill. The likelihood of a clash is high, whether it is between Perkasa and Bersih, or the police and Bersih, or between the police, Bersih, Perkasa and UMNO Youth all at the same time. Although most of the crowd will remain calm, it is always a couple of individuals who spoil it all for everyone.

Despite all of this, the government continues to practice double standards. If Perkasa can continue their message of hate, for Utusan Malaysia to continue defaming Datuk Ambiga, but for poets and opposition members pulled up for 'sedition', Bersih 2.0 has to go on. What this would do is expose the BN coalition for what it really is, and the whole world will be watching with intense interest. All democracies require a free and fair system. Similarly, the right to assemble is another of our rights enshrined in our own constitution. If we can't do something as simple as uphold our constitution, we become prisoners in our own country.

For those who want to march, bring along a bottle of water, goggles and a hand towel. For those in KL who don't want to join the rally, stay at home. If you do go out, expect severe delays. But wherever we are on July 9, let us be united in spirit for a united, peaceful, democratic nation.

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