Saturday, December 9

Idiotic interlopers

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WHEN the PM declared on Friday night that “uncivilised, undemocratic enemies would lead Malaysia to ruin”, I seriously hoped that he also had in mind the bunch of miscreants who descended on the neighbourhood of Bersih chairperson S Ambiga the day before.

Yes, the same buffoons who spent a good portion of that Thursday afternoon trying to intimidate the lawyer and her family by setting up a burger stall outside her house and wasting everyone’s time – including their own – making a lot of noise and burning burgers that were surely as tasteless as their caper.

All 200 burgers, we are told, were distributed freely.

For the benefit of those who missed this incident, this bunch of purported petty traders calling themselves Ikhlas were there to protest their alleged loss of income caused by the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.

They’d staged an earlier gathering on May 5, noisily protesting outside Pertama Complex, an old shopping centre off Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in central Kuala Lumpur.

Then, with obscene posters at hand to help them hammer their point across, some 30 of them claimed that they had suffered more than RM200,000 in losses from not having opened shop during the Bersih rally.

Funnily enough, when their loud and obnoxious president was questioned by journalists, he admitted “that he does not have any shop in Kuala Lumpur”.

Perhaps he fancied himself as a bit of a PW Botha opposing the 1963 Martin Luther King March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom or Gandhi’s 1929 Salt March in India.

Yep, someone who clearly didn’t know what was going on, the principles involved, but was willing to oppose it. In his case, perhaps for some reward, certainly something more than the freshly starched and pressed 1Malaysia shirts than he and his minions were wearing.

Indeed, the grotesque irony about these ‘petty traders’ is that, despite complaining about accumulating all these huge losses, they could, nonetheless, waste an afternoon setting up a burger stall and then burn and distribute 200 free burgers.

And then, like thugs, threaten to bring more of their ilk at a later date to set up even more stalls in this upscale residential area where it’s highly unlikely that greasy burger stalls will attract customers.

And on the same day, a similar number up in Penang, led by the state Perkasa Youth chief, held a ‘funeral rite’ in front of the Chief Minister’s house, apparently to show their dissatisfaction at the latter fs rule in Penang since 2008.

It is quite unlikely, as other commentators have stated, that these characters simply acted on their own accord.

Both cases seemed terribly well-orchestrated, with the authorities not lifting a finger and, indeed, allowing this thuggish behaviour to just continue, reminiscent of the ‘cow head’ march in Shah Alam a couple of years back.

In the Penang incident, the group performed a ‘funeral rite’ in front of the CM’s house and put up a garlanded framed photograph on the gate of the house to signify his ‘death’. They then threw posters of the CM in front of his gate and along the road to the state government offices in Komtar.

Of course there hasn’t been much since in terms of official protests and condemnation of both the KL and Penang incidents.

Instead, one national language newspaper has come out in support of the ‘burger burners’ outside Ambiga’s residence, speciously asserting that what Ikhlas did was similar to the Bersih march.

Clearly, however, as any right-thinking person will point out, they are not.

Bersih 3.0 – in KL as in many other parts of Malaysia and the world – was made up of largely-peaceful, incident-free gatherings at specific public places to voice a demand by many for free and fair elections.

The repulsive, contemptible actions on Thursday in both Penang and Kuala Lumpur were intimidatory acts by, at best, louts, arguably on private property and clearly invading the privacy of the individuals concerned, their families and their neighbours.

As one commentator put it when criticising the incident in Penang: “Conducting funeral services and carrying coffins around and presenting faeces as chocolate cake are not the conduct of the brave and the sane. This is the behaviour of the irrational and the irresponsible.”

It is a sad sign of how low down the gutter we in Malaysia have sunk that we – and more so  the authorities – allow such inane and revolting behaviour to take place without censure, as if such behaviour is acceptable.

Surely such intimidation, such outright callousness is not what 1Malaysia is – or should be – about?