Monday, 18 June 2012
May 25, 2012
An open reply to Umno Youth’s challenge to a debate published in The
Star over my ‘heckling’ of PM Najib Razak in London:
Dear Khairun Aseh,
There is enough evidence on YouTube to substantiate my act of chanting
“Bersih” (during Najib’s event in London). I do not know what other
evidence you require from me to substantiate what I did.
If you wish to understand what Bersih is all about, there’s plenty of
information and evidence provided by the organisation’s steering
Rather than debate with me about Bersih wouldn’t it make more sense
for you to publicly engage with its steering committee? A principled
government will engage with civil society groups like Bersih instead
of using the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 to suppress civil dissent.
I am aware that my actions have attracted numerous responses through
media and social network.
Your challenge to me is but an act of redemption for your president
and an act that avoids a loss of face for Umno.
In other words, your challenge is just another public relation stunt
for that party and it will not benefit the Malaysian taxpayers who had
already paid for the PM’s promotional stunt in London.
My actions were grounded on the moral conviction that, in a democracy
I am entitled to freedom of expression. I acted upon my obligation as
a Malaysian citizen to make reasonable demands for a free and fair
The Rakyat are well aware that all legitimate channels for demanding
Free and Fair Elections have been exhausted.
Yet the government continues to use the mainstream media to manipulate
the Rakyat in claiming that it has addressed Bersih’s demands.
If the government has shown any sincerity in addressing its demands,
the political blunder on the amendment to the Election Offences Act
would not have happened in the first place.
Needless to say, the government under Najib’s watch has again failed
to protect the welfare of Malaysian citizens when our heartfelt
request for ‘duduk bantah’ at Dataran Merdeka was met with extreme
The London 02 protest was a legitimate act of citizenship because
chanting Bersih was the only way left to get the message across to a
prime minister who shies away from dialogue, yet continues to
intimidate dissenting voices.
Civil disobedience is a non-violent act of protest and was not
intended to insult or humiliate the PM. On the question of what is
Malaysian and un-Malaysian, Umno cannot claim it is on a moral high
ground on the subject of ethical conduct.
Ethical conduct involves a fundamental respect for the law, and our
conduct at the London O2 did not contravene the legal codes in the UK
or even in Malaysia.
We voiced our discontent and it stopped there. Whereas the acts of
public humiliation that Umno and Perkasa undertook in mounting
personal attacks against other public figures of the opposition,
undermines fundamental ethics of political conduct, going as far as
invading an individual’s right to privacy.
If such public intimidation can be engineered against public figures,
what’s going to stop Umno from bullying an ordinary fellow like me?
Democracy allows dissenting voices to be heard and when we express our
discontent within the remit of the law, it becomes very undemocratic
of Umno to use the machinery of the government to bully individual
This clearly contradicts Najib’s slogan of ‘Rakyat Didahulukan’. Umno
no longer has the moral credentials to have any say about
After more than five decades in power, the ruling party has choked
freedom with the politics of fear. On a final note, Najib offered to
speak to me after the event. Hence I do not want to waste my time
debating with Umno Youth.
Najib can hide behind Umno Youth; unleash his institutional prowess
through the might of youthful minions. But how long is Najib going to
hide? The prime minister needs to answer the call of Bersih and to be
sincere about this subject.
I am prepared to face the court of public opinion for my conduct, and
I leave it to the public to reflect upon the political conduct and
aims of Umno Youth for instigating an unwarranted challenge. Thank you
for listening to me.