A Kadir Jasin
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ON Sunday, April 29, a day after the violent Bersih 3.0 demonstration for “clean election”, a woman reporter from The Malay Mail newspaper asked me to comment on various aspects of the event.
A portion of it was published in the paper on May 1 under the headline “Risks come with job but violence uncalled for”.
The following is the fuller version of what I told her in the telephone interview.
1. Journalists, media photographers and cameramen must accept that their occupations carry a certain degree of risk. If they cannot accept that they should not be journalists, photographers and cameramen.
2. It is easy for a “peaceful” demonstration to turn violent and for media personnel to be mistaken for protestors in the melee, especially now when every other Dick, Tom and Harry carries a camera and, in many instances, claims or pretend to be members of the Press and some members of the Press were attired like protestors. (That is why, despite my ugly face being fairly widely known, I still carry the press accreditation card issued by the Information Department because some young police personnel and state officials may not recognize me.)
3. I hold the Bersih 3.0 organisers responsible for their flock breaking the agreed and publicised rules and breaching the barriers because they claimed that the demonstration would be a peaceful and apolitical one.
4. I hold the police force responsible if its members provoked or acted unreasonably against the Press and the protestors.
5. When the reporter asked about protests in the early days, I told her that in those days, protesters (including Anwar Ibrahim) seemed to know and accept what they were getting into. They were willing to be arrested or had their legs beaten with rotan by the riot police (FRU).
6. In fact, they took pride in being “caned” and considered the cane marks as battle wounds and proofs of commitment to what they stood for. I told her that too many people who took part in the protest were clueless and were made up of “ponens”, “pondans” and “darai” who cried foul at the slightest mishandling or injury.
7. Some were so ignorant that they thought the Bersih 3.0 demonstration was a festival, a fiesta, a carnival and a family outing such that they turned up with their young children.
8. I posed the question: Could the Bersih 3.0 organisers have misled the public by deliberately misrepresenting the event?
9. And despite the demonstration being billed as apolitical, opposition leaders, led by Anwar Ibrahim and his loyal aide Azmin Ali, turned up in full force.