Thursday, May 10, 2012


The Economist’s Verdict on Bersih: “Mr. Anwar Has Some Explaining to Do” 

Trust The Economist to tell it like it really is. The respected London-based newsmagazine has pronounced its verdict on Bersih 3.0, and this will not make for pleasant reading for the Opposition.

"Mr. Anwar had some explaining to do," said the respected international weekly magazine. The reference was to video suggesting Anwar Ibrahim had incited the crowd to breach legal barriers.The magazine went further and said that Najib Razak is emerging as the real and  genuine reformer in Malaysia, with his reformist credentials intact following the "theatrics" of Bersih 3.0, which Anwar and his team had completely hijacked.

"It is clear the 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," said The Economist. "Some protesters attacked and overturned a police car and it seems that about 20 police officers were wounded... The leader of Bersih, Ambiga Sreenevasan, conceded that some people will think that "the rally had gone wrong" the magazine noted.

The article criticised Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for "inciting supporters" to break through the barriers at Dataran Merdeka, leading to violent clashes with the police.
"And Mr Anwar had some explaining of his own to do. He was caught on video near one of the police barricades 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."

"Either way, it is clear that Bersih won't be able to dominate the moral high ground," The Economist pointed out. The verdict: "Najib emerges from this year's fracas with his reformist credentials essentially intact, not much worse for the wear." The Economist has therefore provided an insightful analysis of Malaysia's post-Bersih political situation.

This latest article followed the newsmagazine's previous verdict on Anwar in January, where it pointed out that Anwar's "reputation has been tarnished" and he still remains a "distant and untrustworthy figure". Despite his claims to the youth that he represents change, Anwar is 64 years old and was a leading player in the establishment for over 20 years.

The Economist said that contrary to his repeated demands for transparency and democracy in government, Anwar has strangely failed to implement these in his own party. PKR is "a family-run affair, riven by infighting."

This indicated a general weariness of Anwar's style of leadership where everything revolves around one man. As for Anwar's dream of taking power in GE13, The Economist believes this is highly unlikely. He is simply not popular enough to win the election. "Mr Anwar may still be popular enough to land a few blows on the government. But he may also be too weakened to deliver the knockout punch."

This view has been supported by the online community. We would like to highlight a response by an online user on Friday:

"For the vast majority of Malaysians who believe in democracy and prefer peaceful life, the demonstration reinforced their belief that Bersih organizers and the opposition parties are undemocratic and cannot be trusted.

It is rich for Anwar to say that the aim of the demonstration is for a clean election, when the election of his own party was riddled with irregularities, accusations by Zaid Ibrahim of fraud, so much so that as a contender for the deputy presidency of PKR he was forced to quit the party, accusing Anwar and his lieutenants of party electoral frauds and rigging in the election process.

Nik Aziz, a leader in the opposition party, said immediately after the demonstration that it is alright to topple a government through street demonstrations, which according to him is a modern way of installing a government. The PKR and PAS politicians who ruined Ambiga's party are anything, but Bersih (clean)."

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