Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had a tight schedule before 9 July 2011.
He launched several large financial projects, including the Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs) under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and the government-linked companies (GLC) Open Day.
He has also promoted a cooperative project, micro-credit scheme and other financial programmes.
Although with the pressure from the July 9 rally, Najib still focuses on many policies implemented since he took over the office.
It is also the emphasis of Najib’s administration. He believes that once the country’s economic situation is improved and household incomes are increased, Malaysians would be happier and the BN government would receive more support.
The BN could then regain the people’s confidence, as well as the two-thirds majority in the Parliament.
The government regarded the July 9 movement as an illegal rally staged by the alternative party that would create chaos and harm national economy and social stability.
The government was worried that the rally and marches would lead to effects similar to those of the Jasmine Revolution or the Thai-style red-yellow confrontation.
Thus, the authorities and the police took tough and strict actions to stop the July 9 movement.
As they were limited by such a thinking, the government rejected the opportunity to communicate with the Bersih and did not actively address the Bersih’s demands.
Obviously, the government had underestimated the Bersih’s capacity of mobilisation. The situation of that day was witnessed by the people across the country and everything is now history.
Perhaps, Najib and other key members of the government would ask, why didn’t the rally participants have compassion or gratitude for the government but rather supported the Bersih?
Could it be as the party’s newspaper and Malay rights group Perkasa said, the people have been “misled” by alternative coalition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PAS?
Of course not.
The people are not fools. Some rally participants and people who are sympathetic to the Bersih are not members of the alternative coalition. They do not care about Anwar’s personal future at all.
They support the Bersih based on a very simple reason, namely to support its eight demands for a fair and free electoral system as well as to express dissatisfaction over the government’s contradictory political practices.
To put it simple, people participated in the rally to demand openness, transparency and fairness.
The people recognise the government’s efforts in economic reform and government transformation. However, they also ask for more freedom and democracy in this country.
The Bersih advocates a fair and free electoral system which is in fact a prerequisite for a democratic society. If the government denies the Bersih too early, it would only further push the people towards the alternative coalition.
Times have changed and the civil society began to take shape. The people’s expectations are no longer limited to a single need. The economy, government and politics must all be transformed.
The government must fully communicate with the people, as well as understand the people’s expectations towards openness, fairness and freedom before they can transform the politics.
The government should have caught the right message from the July 9 rally. It should replace confrontation with communication and openness with closeness while letting democracy transcend authoritarian.
Source : My Sinchew