Read my lips,
S-L-O-W-L-Y this time. It was NOT a demonstration. It was not even
a protest. It was a march to hand a Memorandum to His Majesty The
Agong [Ed: The Malaysian king]. Prior to that, a letter was handed
to The Agong to inform His Majesty that a group of 100,000 citizens
was requesting an audience to hand over this Memorandum.
The Agong responded by asking that another official letter be submitted
listing down the names of the half a dozen or so representatives
who would be going into the palace to deliver the Memorandum on
behalf of the 100,000 citizens. This was complied with on the Friday
For all intents
and purposes, the Agong did not say no to the request for an audience.
He just wanted to know who would be those representatives of the
100,000 citizens; citizens of the Agong. And in accordance to His
Majestys wishes, the names were officially delivered by way
of letter the day before.
Of course, the Agong would not be in the palace that Saturday. Even
before the November 10 march everyone knew that His Majesty would
be gracing the Monsoon Cup in Terengganu. This is an annual affair
and the date of the Monsoon Cup had been fixed way before the November
10 march was even mooted.
But no one
expected The Agong to personally receive the Memorandum. After all
this is not proper protocol. Proper protocol would be to hand the
Memorandum to a palace official nominated by His Majesty to receive
it on behalf of His Majesty.
The Agong does not even personally make official announcements,
though these announcements may be on behalf of the government. The
official announcements are always done by the Keeper of the Royal
Seal. Such is the proper protocol and it was expected that proper
protocol would be observed in this instant as well.
But this did
not stop the government-owned media from spinning the story that
The Agong was not in the palace but in Terengganu that day. They
tried to paint the scenario that this was abnormal and reflects
the failure of [protest movement] Bersihs official delegation
in meeting the Agong in person to hand the Memorandum to His Majesty.
Such a thing would not be proper and no way would Bersih expect
the Agong to do what is not proper. The dignity of the institution
of the Monarchy needs to be protected and just because Bersih wanted
to hand a Memorandum to the Agong does not mean that His Majesty
needs to push aside protocol and forsake the dignity of the institution
of the Monarchy.
General of Police proudly announced to the world that the police
succeeded in frustrating the move by the marchers to assemble at
the Dataran Merdeka [Merdeka Square]. They failed in their objective,
boasted the IGP. The police won, the people lost.
As they say,
those who forget history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. You
ignore history at your own peril. Hitler learned this the hard way.
The beginning of the end for Napoleon was when he opened two battle
fronts by engaging Russia. Hitler did the same and suffered Napoleons
fate. Then, Hitler wrongly guessed where the Invasion of Normandy
would take place just like the British before that in Singapore.
The Allied forces landed in the least expected place and from there
on it was plain sailing all the way to Berlin.
made the same mistake. He thought that the Allied forces would land
in Kuwait and he sent his entire army to laze on the beach while
waiting for the Americans and their buddies to sail straight into
deaths door. Saddam cannot be blamed for thinking so because
for weeks before the Iraqi invasion CNN had showed live footages
of the Allied forces rehearsing the Kuwait invasion
which involved landing craft from ship to shore.
Saddam should have remembered what happened to the British in Singapore.
But he did not. How could he when for weeks CNN had showed scenes
of the Allied forces training for an invasion by sea? Instead, the
Allied forces parachuted into Iraq and caught the Iraqis completely
by surprise. The Iraqi army was dissected into two and the South
could not help those few trapped in the North. Iraq fell before
you could finish screaming Oil for Food Scandal.
plan was to deliver a Memorandum to the Agong. It was not
to invade Dataran Merdeka. It was not to battle the police.
It was to march to the Istana Negara to deliver a Memorandum.
And that was achieved.
greater men than [Malaysian prime minister] Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
had been tricked and their armies massacred as they looked the other
way. So Abdullah should not take it too hard or too personal. After
all, Hitler and Saddam are certainly larger people than any Malaysian
Prime Minister. And if they too could swallow a Red Herring - hook,
line and sinker - can we blame Abdullah who is not even a fraction
of these two?
No, in spite
of the IGPs happy rhetoric and boastful statement that the
police won and the marchers lost, the opposite actually holds true.
The organisers never intended to converge onto Dataran Merdeka.
This was a mere Red Herring.
the hype over the months leading to the march gave the impression
that there was going to be a gathering at Dataran Merdeka. And it
was going to be at 3 pm on Saturday, November 10, 2007. Even the
party leaders were made to believe so and all and sundry were geared
towards this gathering at Dataran Merdeka. The organisers even applied
for a police permit to hold this gathering, which was
of course rejected.
And the organisers continued announcing that the 3 pm gathering
at Dataran Merdeka would not be aborted in spite of the rejection
of the police permit. And the reason the police rejected the application
for the permit, other than for so-called security reasons, is that
because the organisers had not obtained permission from City Hall
to use Dataran Merdeka for the gathering.
The whole country
was made to believe that an illegal gathering would be held at Dataran
Merdeka. Even the top echelons of the political parties thought
so, as did the government and the police. But only a handful of
the planners knew what the real game plan was. Not even the committee
members or the field commanders were privy to the details.
They were only told that Plan A was to gather at the
Dataran Merdeka. But there would be three other plans; Plan B, Plan
C and Plan D. So wait for Saturday morning and they would be told
whether it would be Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D.
But there was
no Plan A. There was also no Plan B, Plan C or Plan D. There was
only one plan, to march to the Istana Negara [king's palace]. And
to be able to do this the police needed to be sent to Dataran Merdeka.
And they went there. And they guarded an empty padang [field] which
was deserted except for the occasional swallow that landed to look
for a stray worm. And while the police idled away in the hot sun
followed by soaking rain, the field commanders were told to pass
word to their group that the assembly points had been changed. Abandon
Dataran Merdeka. Instead, head for the five designated assembly
SMSess floated in the air that Saturday morning. A chain reaction
was triggered that sent everyone aiming for the new meeting points.
They were told they should assemble at these new points and from
there crash into Dataran Merdeka by force. 4,000 police,
however well-armed they may be, are no match for 50,000 marchers.
But would they invade Dataran Merdeka with children, women, one-legged
men on crutches, those in wheelchairs, old men, and so on, in their
No, the plan was to march to the Istana Negara. That was the only
plan. And the march would be a breeze with no obstacles to hinder
them considering all the police were vigilantly guarding the extremely
deserted Dataran Merdeka.
Yes, that was
the plan. The plan was to deliver a Memorandum to the Agong. It
was not to invade Dataran Merdeka. It was not to battle the police.
It was not to put the children, women, one-legged men on crutches,
those in wheelchairs, old men, and so on, at risk. It was to march
to the Istana Negara to deliver a Memorandum. And that was achieved.
Yes, it is
true that the entire Kelang Valley was paralysed that day. But it
was not paralysed because of the march. It was paralysed because
the police had sealed all the roads leading into Kuala Lumpur. 50,000
marchers were caught in this jam. 50,000 marchers could not get
into Kuala Lumpur. So it became a march of 50,000 instead of 100,000.
But whether it was 50,000 or 100,000 what does it matter? The Memorandum
to the Agong reached the Istana Negara nevertheless, even with a
mere 50,000 marchers. And that was what we wanted and that was what
We will talk
more about the November 10, 2007 march in the next episode. Yes,
there is more to talk about. We need to talk about the allegation
that this was an opposition event, we need to talk about the allegation
that the Monarchy is being dragged into politics, we need to talk
about what we hope to achieve with all this, we need to talk about
what comes next, and much more.
In the meantime, let us sit back and gloat about how the Royal Malaysian
Police was sent to guard an empty field the whole day long while
we casually strolled to the Istana Negara for our appointment with
the Agong. Oh, and before I sign off, Saturday is wear yellow
day. Wear anything yellow every Saturday whether it is a shirt,
T-shirt, scarf, tudung, baseball cap, ribbon on your lapel, wrist
band, etc. Just make sure it is yellow.
[Long live the king!]
Note: The above article was posted on www.malaysia-today.net
(Your source of independent news). Raja Petra Kamarudin started
the Malaysia Today website and his blog to facilitate open discussion
on Malaysia's political and social scenes. Known for his hard-hitting
commentaries, which are often infused with humour, Raja Petra is
also the author of When Time
Stood Still and From Prince
Wear Yellow Every Saturday
were urged to wear yellow every Saturday in a protest against
the government, after a rally calling for election reform
was suppressed with water cannons and tear gas, an AFP report
organisers of last Saturday's rally, which despite heavy
rain and a government ban drew 40,000 people in the biggest
turnout in a decade, selected yellow as the colour of "people
are asking everyone nationwide to wear yellow on every Saturday.
It can be a yellow cap, a yellow shirt, a yellow ribbon...
just anything yellow," said Syed Azman Syed Nawawi from
the opposition Islamic party PAS.
protest movement, a coalition of opposition parties and
civil society groups known as Bersih [Ed: Malay word for
"clean"], is pushing for reforms including a clean-up of
the electoral roll and an end to postal votes.
handed a protest memorandum to the king during the rally
and said Tuesday they would also meet the country's nine
state sultans to press for reforms.
Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is expected to call
snap polls early next year, has denounced the protesters
for involving the king who is highly respected but has a
largely ceremonial role and usually stays out of politics.
do not want to drag in the king and the sultans but who
else can we appeal to," Syed Azman said at a press conference
along with other opposition leaders.
government and the election commission have turned a deaf
ear. So we turn to the king who is the protector of the
people and the constitution," he said.
AFP report also said that four Bersih leaders have been
summoned to report to the police headquarters on November
have said that 245 people were detained during the protests,
although organisers and rights groups say that is an exaggeration
and only 36 people were arrested.
said today that the parents of 18 children detained at the
rally will be charged with engdangering their children.
was an irresponsible act and wrong of the adults to bring
children to the rally," police chief Musa Hassan said according
to the New Straits Times.