The Malaysians who oppose clean, free and fair elections, otherwise known as Umno and their cronies, have claimed two casualties; democracy and the rule of law. In place of democracy, we now have mobocracy. S Ambiga and her neighbours have been targeted. Now anything to do with Bersih and the opposition are subject to mob attacks. How soon before the same happens to ordinary citizens like you, should you disagree with Umno policy? The harassment of Ambiga is a calculated distraction. For the past 54 years, Umno has broken every rule in the book to continue its stranglehold on the country. Then, along comes Ambiga and Bersih to reproach the government for its shoddy election practices. Bersih stands in the way of the continued Umno domination of Malaysia and the face which one normally associates with Bersih, is Ambiga’s. Umno wants us to focus on protecting Ambiga, so that we will forget about Umno and the Election Commission’s (EC) electoral fraud. It has been suggested that race, religion and her gender were in some way connected with Ambiga’s harassment. To make these links is to overlook decades of known atrocities committed by Umno to control the rakyat. We cannot ignore the wider picture in an effort to seek easy answers and scapegoats to explain these abhorrent actions. The tragedy of May 13 was blamed on worsening Malay-Chinese relations, the Memali incident on a banned Islamic sect and the murder of Altantuya on a greedy vindictive woman. Scratch beneath the surface and a different picture emerges. The men who are intimidating Ambiga do so under strict orders from the top. These men include the “butt regiment”, a group claiming to be army veterans and the elite “petty traders” whose chief leads the life of a Bollywood film star. Both are aided by their mercenaries, the Mat Rempits. Umno and their cronies have been spoilt by their continual abuse of the constitution and other initiatives which were meant to help all sections of the rakyat, not just a select few.
Tough future With a stronger opposition party, and with Bersih demanding free and fair elections, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is backed into a corner. It is no surprise that Bersih received a violent reception. Malaysians face a tough future because extremist elements within the government do not wish to relinquish power. The extremists have a strong sense of entitlement because of their wrong and unshaken belief that they deserve it; but why should one’s race and religious inclination be the determining factors in education, financial aid and welfare programmes? Why should others be held hostage by the extremists? Why exclude legitimate Malaysians from sharing Malaysia’s wealth? What did the police do to stop the petty stall holders who distributed free burgers outside Ambiga’ house? The deputy chief of police, Khalid Abu Bakar, seems incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and condoned the actions of the petty trader’s group. He made a mockery of the rule of law. He does not deserve his badge of office. If he was more responsible, he could have stopped the thugs from perpetrating their act of civil disobedience and there would have been none of the farcical selling of lots outside Ambiga’s residence and none of the “butt” displays from so-called veteran soldiers. No servicemen would dishonour his old unit. The butt-exhibitionists brought the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s name into disrepute, because all soldiers swear allegiance to King and country. They also brought shame to the Malay community. Khalid’s stupidity was nothing compared to the silence of the Malaysian leaders who were mute when it came to these personal attacks on individuals. Did we hear our PM condemn the harassment? Did the Home Minister, under whose purview the police come, rebuke the mob-rule? Their silence gave tacit support to anarchy. These mobs want to hold all of Malaysia to ransom. They are now attacking any Bersih talk, and have targeted ceramahs by the opposition. Last night, a senior citizen suffered head injuries when a talk by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, was pelted with stones and eggs. So who will accept responsibility should a death occur in these attacks? One man risks losing the sight in one eye because the police fired tear-gas canisters directly at the crowd during the Bersih 3.0 rally of April 28.
Umno lackeys These Umno lackeys have defied the rule of law. They invade residential areas, invite Mat Rempits to intimidate the public by revving their engines and racing around dangerously; they deface public property just so Umno can continue to govern. Reasoning with them is like reasoning with a toddler in a temper tantrum. The IGP has no grip on policing just as Najib has no clue on how to govern his “best democracy in the world”. Mat Rempits are encouraged to harass and intimidate the rakyat through their acts of civil disobedience. Najib tells the whole world he practises moderation but he is a leader who is frustrated by the power-struggles within his party. His government is weak and inefficient. Voting them in at the 13th general election will be like voting for the lunatics to run the asylum. Now, Malaysia is ruled by mobocracy or mob-rule. Najib has said that he will “defend Putrajaya at all costs, and with blood, sweat and tears”; perhaps the mob-rule will be used to fulfil this promise. If mob-rule dominates, emergency powers will be swept in and Umno can continue to govern. There would be no need for GE13. The divisive tactics used against Ambiga are not new. They were used in Memali and the May 13, 1969 incident. The reason has always been the same: to divide and rule. It is time Malaysians snapped out of their delusions and make a stand.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.