Home Media statements 2016 Media Statements Are the Red Shirts on a rampage?

Are the Red Shirts on a rampage?

The Red Shirts protesting outside Malaysiakini - Photograph: Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail

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Whether this should be a question or a statement is for thinking Malaysians to figure out. For the doubters it will be a question; for the perceivers, it will be a statement!

But there is no doubt that the Red Shirts are everywhere, confronting and challenging those who are standing up for their rights and for what they believe to be a just cause.

The Red Shirts’ blatant conduct and actions have created a tinderbox that could threaten our peace and harmony. They have become bold and outrageous – encouraged by the silence of the top leadership, which has shown more tolerance to them compared to its reaction to the activities of NGOs and the Opposition.

The Red Shirts have unnecessarily and deliberately provoked the peaceful Bersih 5 convoys at various places and occasions. There was no compelling reason or need to stand in the way of the Bersih convoys, block their passage, assault their members and grab their banners and flags. Such violent behaviour could have incited reaction and retaliation which could have spun out of control.

To their credit and discipline, the Bersih convoy participants refused to be provoked and they restrained themselves from reacting in similar fashion. They did not want their cause to be betrayed by acting foolishly and giving in to animal instincts to retaliate.

In a Facebook posting attributed to Jamal Md Yunos, an allegedly seditious posting read, “I promise the May 13 tragedy will repeat along with flying parang if Bersih 5 is held at the time, date and place as planned on Nov 19. Long live Malays!”

READ MORE:  Myanmar’s brave protesters display remarkable resolve in silent strike

On 10 October, Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar had said that police would investigate the Facebook post. Khalid tweeted about it providing a screenshot of the purported posting by Jamal dated 21 September. In his tweet, Khalid said: “This seditious statement is unacceptable. The police will take stern and swift action.”

It is almost one month now but we are yet to be told of the findings of the police investigation. We are in the dark as to what “stern and swift action” has been taken. Jamal is still on the prowl, just as arrogant and just as intimidating.

Though Jamal was dramatically arrested at the KLIA upon his return from overseas on 19 October and remanded for two days, there has been no news of the outcome. The remand has apparently not sobered him or brought him to his senses to behave himself.

On 28 October, Jamal was quoted as saying, “We will not hesitate to do anything to stop the Bersih rally…. For me, our struggle will continue even if we are bathed in blood.”

“Whose blood is he going to spill?” will be the natural question on the lips of thinking Malaysians. Is this what he meant when he was earlier quoted as mentioning “flying parangs”?

He is not repentant after his remand. If anything, he has become bolder and more aggressive.

On 3 November, he gathered with his supporters outside the office of Malaysiakini demanding an explanation about reports that the news portal had received funding from the Open Society Foundations, funded by American magnate George Soros.

READ MORE:  Myanmar’s brave protesters display remarkable resolve in silent strike

Who is Jamal to demand an explanation from Malaysiakini regarding their funding? If it was wrong, it is for the police to investigate and for the courts to decide if Malaysiakini had violated any existing laws in accepting this donation. It is not his business to demand accountability from Malaysiakini, which has, for the record, announced such funding soon after its launch.

He even threatened to tear down part of the news portal’s office. Why is he allowed to roam freely with his hoodlums?

Why the need to take to the street two days later on 5 November when he had declared, “All we wanted was an explanation. I thank Malaysiakini for welcoming us in and for their explanation.

“I am satisfied with their explanation.”

Some of the people who were ferried in by buses were not clear why they had been brought to demonstrate outside Malaysiakini. There were even teenagers in their midst. A woman who was together with the Red Shirts did not know what it was all about. How then were they induced to come along?

Who financed the thousands of red shirts that were distributed to all and sundry? Who paid for the nasi bungkus packets that were given out? Who chartered the buses to ferry the people to join in the demonstration? What inducements were offered to persuade them to take part in the demonstration?

It cannot be solely the work of an individual named Jamal Md Yunos. On his own, he wouldn’t have the resources or the network to bring in the numbers. There are unseen hands at mischief stirring the cauldron of hate to keep the unrest very much alive.

READ MORE:  Myanmar’s brave protesters display remarkable resolve in silent strike

The Red Shirts could have been stopped in their tracks if the top leadership had acted responsibly to stop this madness. If only the Umno president had openly told Jamal to stop his nonsense because he is becoming a menace to our unity and harmony with his brazen conduct, Jamal would not have defied this order. Unfortunately, such an order was not forthcoming. We wonder why.

Now it is left to well-meaning Malaysians who care for this nation and our peace and harmony to ensure that there must be a change of government at GE14 so that our future will never be in jeopardy.

Under Umno, it will be more of the same: more polarisation, more unrest, more corruption, more injustice, more selective prosecution, more oppressive laws, more of everything that does not serve the interests of ordinary Malaysians and the future of Malaysia.

There will be no change to this dangerous dance on the slippery slope unless we bring about the change with a change of government.

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive committee member
8 October 2016

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