Sunday, May 6, 2012
Najib, govt remain intact, says The Economist
Influential world-class publication The Economist assessed Bersih 3.0 as something the Opposition could have skipped or cancelled as it failed to signify their true demand for a just poll. The episode too pictures them as a rebel group trying to run down the government by force, by coup.
"Bersih 3.0 has done little to shake Datuk Seri Najib Razak's reformist image... and unlike last year, the political impact from this year's event was likely minimal.
"It is clear that Bersih won't be able to dominate the moral high ground - at least not on the score of one weekend's theatrics - as they did last year. The campaign for electoral reform goes on, but Mr Najib emerges from this year's fracas with his reformist credentials essentially intact, not much worse for the wear," said The Economist in an article dated May 1.
It also described this year's rally as more of a 'score-draw' and that although there were recurrences of police brutality, the violent actions of some Bersih protesters attacking and overturning a police car 'played into the government's hands'.
It says, this has allowed PM Najib to claim that the police were the 'victims' in the rally and even made Bersih co-chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan concede that some people would think that the rally had gone wrong because of the unruly behaviour of some protesters.
Ambiga had, during a press conference after the rally, said it was the police who 'drew first blood'. However, Bukit Aman video footage proved otherwise, especially when the protesters tore down barricades at the Dataran Merdeka.
The Economist also questioned Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's presence during the April 28 rally, saying that he had some explaining to do with regards to accusations that he had incited Bersih supporters to push aside police barriers.
"He was caught on video near one of the police barriers talking to one of his colleagues; critics allege that he was inciting supporters to push aside the barriers. Mr Anwar himself says this is nonsense," said the article.
It stated that since the embarrassment faced by Najib in his administration's handling of last year's Bersih rally, the government had repealed a slew of outdated and repressive laws to win back its reforming credentials.
"Bersih rallies have quickly established themselves as something of a ritual in Malaysia's political calendar...the only significant variant is the political impact. Last year it was huge - this year it will probably be very little."
In an interview with Radio Australia on Tuesday, Anwar denied that his hand gesture, as shown on the video footage, was a signal to protestors to breach the barricades, instead claiming that it meant 'negotiate with the police'.
Such an analysis by The Economist will probably spur others to reconsider their 'supportive' notes for Bersih. Knowing how much The Economist had criticised Malaysia, especially during the tenure of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the premier, its latest article is believed not as trying to play chummy with Najib but was merely based on true observation.
By logic, The Economist got nothing to lose if it sways toward the Opposition. However, I personally believe it upholds professionalism more than producing lies, like the Opposition media does!