Friday, 22 July 2011

BERSIH 2.0 RALLY: Economical analysis

Sunday, July 10, 2011
Face-off. The only 'weapon' the protestors had was defiance against
the FRU who were in full anti-riot gear, with full-face helmet and
shield. (Front page of Sunday Star)
It's the day after. A quick browse through the print and online news
media can leave the casual reader very much confused as to where
things stand at the moment.

Despite the massive clampdown and blockades, the government failed to
stop the protestors from amassing in several areas of the city. The PM
said "no serious harm was caused" and in the same breath also said
"street demonstrations not only bring hardship to the people, it could
also lead to possessions being destroyed". Isn't he contradicting
himself? There have been no reports of damage to property.

Fodder for the government to use in accusing Bersih of being used by
the opposition. (The Star)
Dato Ambiga says that it was "mission accomplished" although Bersih
2.0 didn't quite achieve its original objective of marching to the
palace to deliver a memorandum to the King. It didn't look good that
she was flanked by leaders of the opposition parties at the press
conference. She had always insisted that Bersih 2.0 was apolitical.
She did, however, explain that she marched with the opposition instead
of 'alone' for security reasons.
Proof that tear gas was fired into the hospital compound, despite the
IGP's denial. (Malaysiakini)
The IGP said the police succeeded in dispersing the demonstrators who
numbered only a mere "5000 to 6000", and not 100,000 as claimed by the
organizers. He denied the police fired tear gas into the compound of
Tung Shin hospital, despite photos that show otherwise.

Outside KLCC yesterday afternoon.
Getting ready for the protestors.
Shoppers 'locked' inside Suria KLCC. This was to prevent protestors
from seeking refuge in the mall.
The scene outside Pavilion at 5pm. People resumed their shopping as if
the protests never happened.

Over at Lot 10 junction, traffic was slowly getting back to normal. No
signs of damage to property anywhere.
And I say again, all the show of force from the police, FRU, General
Operations Force, and Light Strike Force was totally unnecessary as
the protestors were unarmed. Shopowners, paying heed to the
government's repeatedly warnings of chaos and destruction resulting
from the rallies, closed their shops. Massive traffic congestion
outside the city centre was caused by police road blocks and road
diversion. People movement was restricted as buses couldn't enter the
city, and several stations along the Ampang and Kelana Jaya lines were
closed. We can point the finger directly at the government for causing
all this inconvenience and loss of earnings for the rakyat.

Bersih supporters shaking hands after the rally in Jalan Ampang. No
hard feelings?
Those who were arrested were questioned and then released - after a
buffet meal courtesy of the police at Pulapol. Faces have been blotted
out. (Photo: PDRM)
If only the government had given Bersih what it had asked for in the
first place, or to gather in Merdeka Stadium from 2-4pm, there would
have been no arrests, and no need for tear gas or water cannons. It
would have been a peaceful walk enroute to the istana or stadium, with
the police lining the route on both sides to provide security and
safety. It's possible to hold peaceful protests in the streets. But,
of course, the government has so little faith in the people, and so
much fear of losing power that they would rather 'play safe' and bring
out all they have in their arsenal to counter any threat, real or
perceived, to protect their status quo.

At the start of the walk to the stadium - peaceful until confronted by
riot police backed by water cannons. Shops could have remained open.
The huge crowds would have generated business for stalls selling food
and drinks, and for buses, trains and taxis. (Photo: Malaysiakini)

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