Tuesday 12 July 2011

Wall Street Journal : Government has caused fear and repression

Jul 12, 2011 
KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — The Wall Street Journal said today the government’s response to the Bersih 2.0 rally on Saturday has created an environment of fear and repression.
However, the international daily added that with an energised Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the Najib administration may find that the support of the “silent majority” will soon speak up against the ruling coalition.

“On Sunday, Mr Najib called on the ‘silent majority’ of Malaysians, who he claims opposed Bersih, to speak up. If he continues to create an environment of fear and repression, he may find this silent majority speaking up soon, but against him,” the newspaper wrote.

Calling the event “Crackdown 2.0,” the WSJ said that “based on the evidence of this weekend’s rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians aspire for a more competitive political system than what they have.”

“Also based on this weekend’s evidence, Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak isn’t prepared to give it to them,” it added.

Bersih had claimed a turnout of 50,000 for their street demonstration which went ahead without police permission, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of a PKR leader’s husband.
The electoral reform movement decided to take to the streets despite previously accepting Najib’s offer to move the street rally to a stadium after the government refused to allow the gathering to take place in Stadium Merdeka.

This came after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong called on the government a week ago to execute its duties fairly and for it to meet Bersih and discuss the issue of free and fair elections.

Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin had intervened after a police dragnet that had seen over 100 arrests, the raiding of the Bersih secretariat and confiscation of Bersih-related materials in the space of a week.

The WSJ said the “crackdown was little surprise given the government’s actions before the rally” in which the government “tried its best to intimidate the organisers.”

It said that Putrajaya’s “scare tactics backfired as thousands of protesters, further angered, arrived from across the country.”

The newspaper concluded that with the government now blaming Bersih for the chaos that erupted on Saturday, further protests could materialise as public anger simmers due to rising inflation, coupled with slow reforms, eating into their standard of living.

“Saturday’s turnout is a sign that Malaysians also understand the link between true democracy and good government", it said.

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