Bersih rally: The demonisation continues

Aliran (
Saturday, 17 November 2007
The Star, among other dailies, today carried a front-page banner headline that screamed, “No consent” (referring to the Yang DiPertuan Agong’s apparent disapproval of the recent “illegal’ Bersih rally, which concluded with the submission of a memorandum to the palace in Kuala Lumpur on 10 November 2007). We refer to this reported royal disapproval as “apparent” in the light of Raja Petra’s allegation in his blog, Malaysia Today, that the media statement was issued by the Comptroller of the Royal Household, Datuk Wan Mohd Safiain Wan Hasan (a position that is said to be accountable to the Prime Minister’s Department), and not to the King himself. In other words, the blog implied that there’s something fishy about the issuance of this “palace statement”.

Besides, if it is true that the Palace had summoned the media for this purpose, then why did The Star, for instance, make use of the Bernama report instead of its own? Is it the normal precaution: when in doubt, use a Bernama report?
But, make no mistake. The demonisation of the Bersih continues. On page 4 of today’s Star, a headline cried out, “Traders lament losses due to Nov 10 rally” above a report about a group of traders and some 80 NGOs holding a press conference to express their disgust and unhappiness over the recent Bersih rally. The gathering allegedly disrupted their business and other normal daily activities. Mind you, the “NGOs” included the Kuala Lumpur Taxi Drivers Association, the Federation of Malaysia Entertainment Associations, the Jalan Alor Hawkers Association and the Pudu Rukun Tetangga Pudu!
Strangely, it did not occur to the daily to feel curious and ask why the ‘spontaneity’ of this angry motley group of NGO “activists” seemed rather delayed – almost a week after the fact. Did their anger and unhappiness have to take such a long time to gather enough momentum?
And just below this story was another report about Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak arguing that “the Government acted within the law of the land to protect the people’s safety during last Saturday’s illegal gathering”.
For a rally that was initially reported by the mainstream media as one that was only able to draw a mere 4,000 people, its impact upon the larger society and also those “scared” and “disgusted” traders and 80 “NGOs” is certainly pretty amazing, don’t you think? And hence, the need to further demonise this rally and its organisers and supporters. Get it?