By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. The Bar Council accuses the Malaysian Police of brutality against the Bersih demonstrators. But, then that is to be expected. The Bar Council has never ever tried to be impartial or neutral when it comes to the Government. It is more of an opposition than the opposition parties.
2. But has the Malaysian Police been brutal? It is not the most perfect police force but this country is better served by its police than many other countries.
3. In a force that big there must be a few who may be inclined towards abuses of authority. When outnumbered, as they were during the Bersih demo, despite their being armed, the police must fear bodily harm to themselves. People in a crowd invariably feel daring and would do what they would not do when alone or outnumbered. They also know that the police had been instructed not to use their arms or undue force.
4. But the Bersih demo was actually intended to show police brutality and oppression of the people by the Government. Some of the organisers want to justify to the world their need for extra legal means to overthrow the Government.
5. Nik Aziz, the so-called religious leader of PAS, openly declared that the overthrow of the Government by demonstration is halal – permissible in Islam. He openly admitted that he gave money and urged PAS members to participate in the demonstration.
6. His followers are fanatical about obeying his orders regardless of their being against the accepted teachings of Islam.
7. A quiet and peaceful demo in a stadium would not create the impression of police brutality or Government oppression. And so the organisers insisted on holding their demo at the Dataran Merdeka, the place where the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hauled up to mark Malaysia’s independence.
8. Then of course the police must be provoked so that they would use force against the demonstrators. Video clips showed clearly that the demonstrators, apparently of a signal from Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, broke the barriers. Then they equally clearly attacked the police pushing and breaking the windshield and overturning the police car.
9. The video showed a demonstrator kicking a policeman who had fallen down. Later a policeman related how he was beaten on his back with some kind of truncheon. He vomited because of the beatings.
10. Many reporters and media photographers were also attacked and beaten.
11. If the police used force it is because they were provoked, they were beaten up and had to defend themselves and because their colleagues were beaten up.
12. But apart from the alleged police brutality against the demonstrators, what other evidence is there that the Malaysian Government is oppressive and deserving of being overthrown through extra legal means.
13. In elections it is obviously possible for the Opposition to defeat the Government party in both State and Federal Constituencies. Some states have fallen into Opposition hands.
14. It is true that the same party won all the elections at federal levels and formed the Government but the support was not consistent. In 1969 the party almost lost. Although in 2004 the party won 90% of the seats in 2008 the party won with only a small majority.
15. Certainly the ruling party never won with 99% of the votes that happens in dictatorships. Is there freedom of expression and press freedom in Malaysia? Read the vernacular papers, and listen to the racist and provocative speeches at Opposition meetings. The Malaysian press is freer than in most developing countries.
16. Do innocent people get arrested, incarcerated and tortured and disappeared as happens in many authoritarian countries and even in the United States? No, people in Malaysia do not fear arbitrary arrests.
17. Are the leaders of Government highly protected and inaccessible to the public? I was in Egypt for a meeting. Mubarak was supposed to attend. The street and side-streets from his residence to the meeting place were cleared, soldiers lined the streets and snipers were stationed on the roofs of buildings. This has never happened in Malaysia. Leaders move freely among the people with minimal security personnel.
18. There are accusations of corruption by the leaders. But there is no public agitation to charge them in court even after they have retired. I appreciate that it is difficult to get evidence of corruption. I am sure that if there is the people would agitate for action to be taken by the Government against retired leaders.
19. The opposition agitated against the ISA, against detention without trial and the Government did what was demanded of it. Many other allegedly oppressive laws have been amended or abolished.
20. No one can deny that the rapid development and increasing prosperity of the people are all the result of Government policies and actions.
21. There are crimes committed in this country but by and large this country is much safer and secure than most of the developing countries practicing democracy or totalitarian rule.
22. In the 55 years of independence the per capita rose from USD 350 to USD 8000. The cities and towns are provided with all the amenities normally found in developed countries. The people have been given access to education and training so that they can earn better incomes. Unemployment is minimal.
23. Roads and express ways connect the cities, towns and villages. Water, electricity, schools and medical facilities reach the remotest villages.
24. Malaysia with its multi-racial population, speaking different languages, believing in different religions, with different cultures and economic disparities, is a difficult country to rule and even more difficult to develop. But Malaysia has been well administered, maintains the rule of law, is secure and safe and gives the people a good life.
25. The Opposition may think they can do better but they must accept that it is for the people to decide. And this they can do through the General Elections.
26. In Malaysia there is no justification for ignoring the law and seeking the overthrow of the Government by street demonstrations and violence.