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Umno, how much did you spend to bring your crowd?

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Compare the attendance at Umno’s 66th anniversary celebration at Bukit Jalil Stadium on 11 May to the Bersih 3.0 turnout. There is simply no comparison, asserts P Ramakrishnan.

The 87000-seater stadium was not exactly packed to the rafters – Photo courtesy of Reuters

Much has been made of the so-called 100,000 turnout of Umno members at the Bukit Jalil Stadium to observe Umno’s 66th anniversary celebrations. Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was obviously elated in seeing the sea of Umno members dressed in red that greeted him on his arrival at the stadium.

He remarked that they too can bring in the crowds. And he was jubilant thinking that support for Umno had returned. You can’t fault him for being carried away by the euphoria of the occasion.

But little does he realise that his optimism was misplaced.

Who were these people who came to the stadium? Why did they come? How did they come?

These were Umno members and supporters. They were induced to come. More than 2,000 buses brought them from across the country to the stadium. They did not come of their own free will, at their own expense. Everything was paid for; everything was taken care of.

Supposing each of the 2,000 buses carried 40 members; that would give a total of 80,000 members and supporters. How much would it have cost to bring all these members to Kuala Lumpur?

The buses had to be hired; that costs money. The 80,000 people had to be fed; that costs money. They had to be accommodated for the night in a reasonable hotel; that costs money. They had to be paid an allowance; that costs money. Taking all this expenditure into consideration, the question to ask is, how many millions did it take to bring them to KL?

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The 80,000 members who attended out of a proclaimed membership total of 3.5m works out to less than 3 per cent of Umno’s total membership.

The actual attendance was less than 10 per cent of the earlier boast that the event would draw one million people.

This lower-than-expected turnout was what was achieved after all the effort to outshine the Bersih 3.0 crowd and after spending millions of ringgit. It is nothing to crow about!

Based on this crowd, it makes no sense to claim that Malay support has returned to Umno. Facts do not support this assumption.

You only brought in a fraction of your members; you did not bring in the crowds – unlike Bersih 3.0. It is as simple as that!

The only non-Umno members who turned up – dressed in red as well – were from Barisan Nasional component parties! But we don’t know whether these allies of Umno who play a supporting and certainly a subordinate role in the BN really have the support of the people. Their presence does not amount to anything to draw comfort from.

Yes, we must not forget the presence of the others as well. According to the New Straits Times of 12 May 2012, “Among the government agencies taking part were the Royal Malaysia Police, Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and SME Corp Malaysia.”

Why are these government agencies taking part in a function organised by Umno for its members? How do we justify the presence of these agencies at a political function? How are they aligned to Umno? Or are they actually aligned to Umno? Are they members of Umno as well?

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Compare this event where everything was facilitated to ensure attendance at the Umno do to that of the Bersih 3.0 crowd. Many would immediately say, “There is no comparison!” And they would be absolutely correct.

The Bersih 3.0 crowd came willingly and voluntarily and spontaneously. There was no inducement. The only compelling factor that propelled them to come was their desire to support Bersih’s eight demands to ensure that the elections would be clean and fair.

They were all fed up with the Election Commission and the way our elections have been conducted all this while. They could no longer tolerate the biased and one-sided electoral process that had worked to the unfair advantage of the BN.

The crowd of more than 250,000 that came in support of what is considered to be the biggest gathering in support of a just cause far outstripped the Umno crowd. It must be remembered that Bersih – unlike Umno – had no members to fall back on. These were all individuals from all walks of life who came freely. There was no compulsion whatsoever.

And they came fully knowing that there would be obstacles and challenges that would be very intimidating. They came ready to face – if necessary – whatever they might be subjected to. They could not be discouraged by the threat of tear gas and water cannons. That’s how determined they were; that’s how dedicated they were to the cause espoused by Bersih.

The Land Public Transport Commission would not grant licences to allow buses to bring in the Bersih crowd from out of town. Otherwise, the crowd would have been even bigger. But this transport commission had no problem in allowing more than 2,000 buses ferrying in Umno members from all over the country.

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The Malaysian public will not be lulled into believing that the tide has actually turned in favour of the BN. Facts do not support this presumption.

The BN can claim anything; they can bribe the entire country – but it will not make any difference.

Discerning Malaysians will continue to ask, “What happened to your concern for the welfare of the people when you became Prime Minister in 2009? What happened to your compassion in 2010, when people were finding it hard to make ends meet? What happened to your goodwill in 2011, when Malaysians were wondering whether you would uplift their misery and comfort them with the billions of ringgit at your disposal?”

They will ask, “Why is it only in 2012 that you are bothered by their plight and their suffering? Is it because the election is round the corner?”

They can see through your game plan. You cannot hoodwink them anymore!

Former Aliran president P Ramakrishnan currently serves as an executive committee member.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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P Ramakrishnan has been an Aliran member since its inception in 1977, serving on our executive committee for 36 years, half of that period as Aliran's president (1994-2011). He continues to serve as an Aliran member, highlighting issues of public interest to a larger audience
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2 Jun 2012 10.18pm

UMNO might want to weep when they read about the numbers at the PAS rally in Alor Setar stadium. No buses provided either!

daniel tan kah beng
daniel tan kah beng
18 May 2012 1.01pm

i love this article, it had said it all,
the new generations, now, can understand much better that old, as before the web, much information had been oppress, tks for the www, the BelakangNanti, can NOT just making news and sentiments to thier illusion, and in today terms it wont work, it work only in rural where KEBENARAN like katak bawa tempurung.
$$$ canNOT buy love, it can buy SEX, that’s what the rakyat being given lots of SEXs storys to read for “resposible” paper – U.
am praying that such oppression and illusion be GONE !

The Truth
The Truth
16 May 2012 10.40pm

Hello P.Ramakrishnan,

Please don’t start lying to the readers. You wrote ‘The Bersih 3.0 crowd came willingly and voluntarily and spontaneously. There was no inducement.’

‘There was no inducement’?

Are you really sure or you are just playing dumb not realising that Nik Aziz Nik Mat openly confessed that he fully sponsored group of Kelantenese to attend Bersih 3.0?

Check your facts first. Tq

17 May 2012 5.23pm
Reply to  The Truth

The Truth may be looking for the truth but seems is not considering the whole story. Bersih participants who came on their own, present company included, did so willingly, voluntarily and spontaneously. If there was inducement it was the provocative behaviour of the authorities. The group of Kelantanese sponsored by Nik Aziz wanted to participate willingly, voluntarily and spontaneously too but lacked the funds for the long trip. The numbers of such people, though, were well exceeded by those sponsored by UMNO for its anniversary bash. Even then UMNO didn’t have enough to create the impression of huge support so they called in their agency people! So, on one sid, you have a group of righteous people fired up, or should I say induced, by the opportunity to stand up and be counted for a just cause while on the other, a group people who were ferried whole sale from their homes to be fired up in the stadium. Evidence the second group were only fired up in the stadium could be seen the following day – few of them returned to Bukit Jalil for the… Read more »

15 May 2012 5.59pm

EC, police force and MACC tuned up? lol. These government agencies are all in bed with eachother. Nothing is transparent and the rule of law is actually the rule of the ruling party. Whatever it takes to stay in power.

Agreed, the Bersih crowd were genuinely grass roots who risked life and limb to stand up for whats right.

15 May 2012 6.19am

UMNO syiok sendiri with 100,000 members in the Bukit Jalil Stadium

Bukit Jalil Stadium full seated capacity is 87,411, and in order to have 100,000 people, the stadium seats and football field must be fully filled.

The Star’s photo is a section of the stadium to hide empty seatings, while this below full view photo from NST shows not so packed crowds. My estimate is 80,000 people in the Stadium because many 45,000-capacity upper deck seatings are still empty.

1. Lower deck with 40,000 people.

2. Upper deck with 25,000 people.

3. Football field with 15,000 people.

The maximum crowd number is 80,000, not 100,000 as reported in MSM news.

My next question is did UMNO inform KL police on the gathering ten days before the event as per the Peaceful Assembly Act?

16 May 2012 8.59pm
Reply to  nkkhoo

Actually I made a gross mistake, the top tier 25,000 seats are totally empty.

Second tier = 20,000

Third tier = 20,000

Football field with 15,000 people.

Total number of participants should be 55,000.

15 May 2012 1.09am

I saw bigger crowd for liverpool training session at bukit jalil

Anan Duran
Anan Duran
15 May 2012 12.12am

How many of bersih mobs actually knew of the 8 point demand? No trouble would have possibly occurred if Bersih supporters assemble in a stadium! But the Bersih were deliberately looking for a fight with the authorities and then take videos of this to show it in the election campaign! Nik Aziz himself (allegedly) admiited PAS gave money to attendees! The fact that Bersih mob came with Ist aid team means they were looking for an assault!

15 May 2012 1.54pm
Reply to  Anan Duran

I remembered Stadium Merdeka offer by PM was withdrew last minute in last 709 Bersih.

How on earth Ambiga could trusted the same PM for the same offer?

Nik Aziz, not PAS forked out his own money to sponsor some poor Kelantanese, may be 10 or 100.

Other 99.999999999% Bersih supporters including me paid our petrol cost and parking fee happily.

Some parking lot operators in KL offered 50% discount for Bersih supporters.

6 Aug 2012 10.13pm
Reply to  Anan Duran

You are a durian!!

Ken Ong
Ken Ong
14 May 2012 11.57pm

sheer case of a pot calling a kettle black. Same, Same lah…..in both the events (UMNO & BERSIH), I’m sure the organizers did paid people to attend although I believe some went there voluntarily. No point of my dear P Ramakrishnan to make a big fuss out of it. A bandit calling another bandit “thief”. Grow up, will ya???

15 May 2012 1.46pm
Reply to  Ken Ong

My friends drove from Penang to KL just to attend Bersih 3.0.

I do not know his Japanese boss paid for his expenses.

6 Aug 2012 10.09pm
Reply to  Ken Ong

May be your are the one who should grow up!!!

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