Things to do and places to go on July 9 if you are in KL. I've just been informed by @faidzsanusi that Ramli Sarip, the grand old man of rock for this part of the world, will be performing at Stadium Merdeka with the legendary Blues Gang. W.o.W.
Wow because on the same day, Bersih, which touts itself as a group concerned with free and fair elections in Malaysia, will be organizing a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur, basically for the benefit of the Pakatan Rakyat's agenda (PAS alone has promised to bring 100,000 people to the so-called Yellow Walk).
And Wow because another group led by Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali (an MP who stood on PAS-Pakatan ticket in 2008 but has since become one of the biggest thorns on their side) is planning a counter-march on the same day. (Perkasa boasts of 20 associate NGOs and the subtle support of some Umno members not so much because of Ibrahim Ali but because Tun Dr Mahathir attends Perkasa's functions).
Triple wow for Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is the son-in-law of former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has also pledged to lead another walk and come to loggerheads with Anwar-Ambiga's Bersih and Ibrahim's Bersih.
So the rock concert will be the only legit gathering on that day, @faidzsanusi observes on Twitter and that's the one I hope to join although the other walks will surely discourage concert-goers from going out. The last time Bersih held a walk, most Malaysians were peeved with the police for using water canons on the protesters. Now, however, a lot of people are hoping that the police and the Home Ministry would act tough on the protesters. Some are openly supporting the use of the Internal Security Act on the organizers of Bersih, Ibrahim, and KJ walks.
Personally, I don't find anything wrong with people wanting to walk to express their sentiments about matters that affect them. That is their democratic right. Trade unions organize pickets for the same purpose, and pickets are better than strikes. Just as peaceful walks are better than riots and street clashes. I have participated in walks here and while I was overseas.
Back in November 2007, when Bersih organised their first massive Yellow march that was televised on Aljazeera and made famous by Zainuddin Maidin's (the Information Minister then) moronic comments, I walked with them in the intermittent rain. I managed to avoid the water canons and certainly did my part to make it a peaceful walk. Many of us enjoyed the walk although it was disappointing to learn that the Opposition leaders had hijacked the walk by showing up "unexpectedly" at the gates of the Istana when the memorandum to the Agong was handed over. We had been assured that the walk would not be hijacked by Anwar Ibrahim and Gang. The night before the walk, Raja Petra Kamaruddin dropped by the National Press Club at Jalan Tangsi, KL to distribute yellow tee-shirts for the walk and some posters. He told us that Anwar, Kit Siang or any of the Opposition leaders would not be present throughout the Bersih walk. Some of us were NOT going to walk if these politicians were going to join the walk.
There's no pretense about who owns Bersih now, we all know that this is a Pakatan Rakyat show, we all know that Anwar Ibrahim is boss and Ambiga is not the boss. PAS has promsied 100,000 bodies for the walk. DAP and PKR, too. It is not a Rakyat's walk. It is a Pakatan Rakyat's walk.
And no more Pak Lah to help bring down, so I shall count myself out.
I also took part in the anti-Tony Blair protest on April 25 last year, the one Ibrahim Ali promised that thousands of slippers would be thrown at the former British PM. The slippers were missing and only a hundred or so protesters turned up. If Ibrahim wants to make an impact on July 9, he will have to do better than that.
I took part in a walk in February 2010 that bloggers organised (and which KJ got involved in) against the Australian MPs who ran down our judiciary. That was peaceful, too, and more sizeable than the Tony Blair's demo.
If the organisers can assure the three parties can walk peacefully, fine. But going by the political nature of the people involved, I think that will be a challenge. The police will have to work overtime to ensure no untoward
Some people say the police should take pre-emptive measures, ie arrest the organisers (namely Ambiga, Ibrahim, and KJ) to foil their protests.
I'd rather, though, if all the protesters make their way to Stadium Merdeka and together we'll sway to great music. Music heals the soul, man.