I give my support to Bersih. As far as the rally goes, that support is based on the idea of freedom of assembly. That however does not mean I fully agree with everything that Bersih does. Specifically, I disagree with its appeal to the King.

Bersih now finds itself in a quandary. The King has just spoken up against its planned protest in downtown Kuala Lumpur.[1]

For a libertarian like me, the King’s speech should not matter. For those in Bersih who makes the King their arbitrator, it does.

Bersih binds itself to the words of the King and not primarily to the principle of liberty. That binding makes the words of the King as an imperative that Bersih must follow, if these monarchists are true to their conviction. And the King’s words have not been favorable toward it. That is the peril of making the King the referee.

Because of the King, I would imagine that there is a conflict between monarchists and civil libertarians within Bersih.

I take comfort seeing Bersih finding itself in a quandry because, again, I disagree with its appeal to the King. I have been so from the very beginning, even back in 2007 in times when many believed that the monarchy was an important balancing mechanism, especially after they observed how the Thai King helped toned down the political conflict in Thailand.

I have argued that that appeal would only politicize the monarchy and bring the monarchy into politics in times when the status quo has a republican bias. At the time, however, my argument ran against the grain. I lost because they said, “look, the model works”.

Not after a while though. These believers of the monarchy as an arbitrator have been discouraged by the sultans of Perak and Selangor. Today, they have been discouraged by the King of Malaysia. The model does not work.

So, while I sympathize with the political fortune of Bersih in light of the King’s statement, but I shall enjoy my little cake nonetheless.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] — “The fact is, street demonstrations bring more bad than good although the original intention is good. Instead, we should focus on our main objective to develop this country, and not create problems that will cause the country to lag behind. [Statement by Agong on Bersih Illegal Rally. Bernama. July 3 2011]

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

p/s — have a happy fourth of July.

4 Responses to “[2389] Bersih finds itself in a quandary with the King speaking up”

  1. on 04 Jul 2011 at 06:41 johnleemk

    Actually Edmund Bon made a good point when he observed that:

    1. The King appoints Election Commissioners
    2. The Constitution requires him to appoint Election Commissioners who command the confidence of the public

    Therefore we should be able to present the King a memorandum voicing discontent and lack of confidence with the current set of Commissioners.

    In general, though, I agree with you — the principles of democracy exist independently of a monarchy, although in a constitutional monarchy, by necessity the two often intertwine. Appealing directly to the King has its pros and cons.

  2. on 04 Jul 2011 at 13:55 Bobby

    Not as much a quandary as made out to be.
    Book Stadium Merdeka for the 300k people who are coming.
    Once gathered, do your stuff like speeches, concert etc.
    Then send a convoy of cars to Istana Negara (not more than 10 or 20 should do) and hand over the Memo to our Dear King.
    After all, didn’t someone say that gathering in stadiums wouldn’t be an issue?

    There, not so hard, is it?

  3. on 04 Jul 2011 at 21:41 Iskandarbak

    Ambiga n her team are adopting a doctor’s way of finding a cure i.e by process of elimination. Over the years, we are slowly testing the monarchs and each time they fail us, we become more cautious and less dependant on them. What will eventually happen to the monarchs is perhaps already writen on the wall. At this juncture, its only a question to what degree of relevance the monarchs have. Its not zero and of course not 100.

    Bersih had no choice at this juncture but to make the King the focal point of handing the memo. The rally is to showcase to the King of rakyat’s demand. It is to him that the memo is to be handed over. Thus, when he pre-empted it,Bersih is indeed caught in a quandry. There is no choice other than to respect his call, coz we still want to hand him the memo and/or have an audience with him.

    Ambiga n team have called it right so far i.e not call off the rally yet but seek an audience with the King to seek his guidance on what the rakyat can do to correct the flaws in voting process. The permutation of whats next is in itself an interesting mind game.

  4. […] Despite what I wrote yesterday, I have to agree that the stadium option is probably the best given the circumstances for Bersih. It is a compromise that makes it safer for everybody.  The ultimate purpose of Bersih is electoral reform. It is not a purely civil liberty organization. It is not bound to push through its right to freedom of assembly. […]

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