Wong Chee Mun writes about the aftermath of the events of July 9th.
The monumental events of July 9th have since passed but it is certainly wrong to say that the fight is over. The parties involved are still bickering over who was wrong and who was right, while some are just plain fighting for the sake of fighting.
It is easy to forget what the event was actually about in the midst of all this messiness. For those who have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, on July 9th, Malaysians witnessed two separate rallies that met at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Those rallies in question were the Bersih 2.0 rally and the Patriot rally, lead by UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
Ironically, both of them agreed that the electoral system in Malaysia needed a change, yet they were both on opposing ends when it came to protesting in July 9th. Bersih felt that organizing a public demonstration was the only way they could send their message across while Patriot, on the other hand, felt Bersih were wrong in doing so and they had to defend the country’s honour by counter-protesting.
At the end of the day, it was pretty clear who had won and who had lost. Despite the government’s best efforts in preventing people from entering the KL City Centre, the protestors still reached the city in time and made the noise they wanted. While Patriot, who did make their way into KL, failed to make as much of an impact as Bersih did.
While many have claimed that day to be a historic day in Malaysia’s democracy, I have found great disappointment in the aftermath of the event, which still carries on till today.
One incident that stands out for me is the censorship of the July 16th article by The Economist regarding the rally. According to the government, they only censored out parts they thought to be false.
However, in my personal opinion, a democracy is supposed to entail free and fair media coverage. Obviously we do not have that in our country. Yet, the idea of blocking out other people’s opinion seems rather preposterous.
I can understand the way our mainstream media operate, as many of the political parties that form the federal government own them, but that doesn’t give them the right to censor non-governmental organizations’ opinions.
If the government thinks that the report by The Economist is in any way inaccurate, they should take proper legal action in a court of law. That way, evidence can be presented and the legal system will decide if there was any wrongdoing.
Admittedly, I did not take part in any of the rallies involved on that day and it would certainly be unfair for me to jump to conclusions on what actually happened. Nevertheless, I do feel that our government has handled this entire fiasco badly. Instead of embracing it, they have been in a denial mode and fighting it. If there is anything we can learn from the Middle East uprisings, it is that government today needs to start listening instead of fighting.