Road to Malaysia’s day of destiny

With well over 100,000 people gathering last week for electoral reform in the largest street protest in the nations history and the event marred by violence by both state and non-state actors alike Malaysian politics has reached an important impasse.

The Bersih 3.0 rally and its aftermath reveal that the path ahead for Malaysian politics will grow even more contentious and complex. As the different Bersih stories pour in, ranging from ordinary heroism to the darker accounts of beatings and abuse of power, the move of Malaysian politics outside of the realm of elite to the streets and social media is both empowering and scary.

Prime Minister Najib Razaks decision not to accommodate the concerns of the protesters last week, and even to demonise their actions, now prods Malaysia further along the road to its day of destiny, where the political fate of Malaysias 54-year government will be determined. So far, the routes chosen are one of confrontation rather than compromise, making resolution to differences even more difficult.

Before the rally, Iarguedthat four actors would shape politics around Bersih 3.0 the youth, the middle class, the police and East Malaysians. Of these, three were decisive on rally day itself (the latter will grow more so as elections approach).

The youth and the middle-class attended the rally in large numbers, marking a new generations engagement with politics and transforming a largely apathetic middle class into a more engaged electorate.

Those wearing yellow and green included Malaysias soccer moms, the shopping mall princesses, disgruntled students, retirees and usually reticent professionals.

These individuals comprised those who had for years enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort of Malaysias success, yet with different levels of concern and angst chose to brave Kuala Lumpurs hot and humid conditions on April 28. It was uncomfortable, but overwhelmingly, this embrace of discomfort shows how engaged Malaysians are with hot-button political issues and their willingness to stand up and be counted.

They were there because they see the country moving in the wrong direction and wanted to make it right. At the very least, the Bersih rally revealed the shortcomings of the countrys leaders in addressing the concerns of a large, important and increasing number of its citizens.

Much of the attention focused on the third actor, the police, whose over-the-top actions in the use of tear gas and their attacks on journalists have permanently stained their reputation among those connected to the rally.

For those not at the rally, the picture is less clear as the mainstream media has manipulated the event in an attempt to snatch the moral high ground, with the government going as far as censoring the international media and destroying cameras. Often the characterisation of police action has been one of black and white, where in actual fact there is much more gray, and views are evolving as more and more stories are shared.

Read the original here:

(1) Road to Malaysia’s day of destiny
URL: http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/30085/



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