There are the provokers and then, there are the provocateurs.
Provokers are those who stir up the feelings, incite and put the thought of provoking into the heads, while provocateurs are the ones who cause the action of provoking, acting it out literally.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (Ku Nan as he is known) was reported to have warned groups like Bersih and the Red Shirts not to go down to the streets on the same day as it could lead to a riot.
Now, Ku Nan, the word “riot” is just too much – for the two groups may not have had that word in their head at all, but now that you have put it in, it may just happen, and you may just be responsible for inciting it.
As a matter of fact, in Perlis, the Red Shirters, as they heckled, some of the youths even came to shake the hand of former Bersih leader and national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said, better known as Pak Samad.
The Star reported that Ku Nan reminded both parties to be sensible and not to resort to hurting each other’s feelings, as Malaysia is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.
“That is the problem, when one party does something that hurts the feeling of the other party, there will be reaction and counter reaction.
“This fellow hurts the other fellow’s feelings, and towards the end it might become a riot. So you have to be very careful,” he was reported as saying by The Star.
Firstly, Ku Nan should probably take a look at exactly what the two groups are before he had opened his mouth and yapped.
Bersih is a group of people who had submitted notifications of the convoy and applied for police permits for the convoys as stipulated by law, and have vowed to be peaceful, with the history of having brought together thousands peacefully. The past four Bersih gatherings even earned praise from police for being orderly.
The other group – who one can only call as Red Shirts – led by some Umno top members and dons the colour of Umno – is a group that came into being, who has not applied for permits and have openly announced that they are going to disrupt the first group from gathering.
On top of that, the convoy of Bersih which was kicked off simultaneously in a few cities today, had alerted the police and in Sarawak, the police had even given them a permit. In Johor, the Bersih convoy even got the police’s cooperation.
The youths on revving motorbikes with sponsored red shirts acted like hooligans, according to videos of Bersih convoy participants by kicking vehicles, shouting and threatening. They even manhandled some of the Bersih convoy participants. No one knew who their leaders were and who was giving the orders.
In Lumut, the Red Shirters led by Umno man Datuk Jamal Yunos were the worst behaved.
Plainclothes policemen allegedly simply recorded the incident but did not interfere. Even the OCPD was there and nothing was done to stop them from harassing the Bersih convoy, claims Bersih official Mandeep Singh, who was with the convoy in Lumut.
In Penang, Malaysiakini reported that thousands of youths on motorbikes just revved around Gurney Drive and Umno youth chief Rafizal Abdul Rahim said they wanted the CM to resign.
Worst of all, they demanded the police not to give permit to Bersih to hold their gathering, which means they were demanding the police to do as they say.
So, Ku Nan, as a politician, when incidents like this happen where even the authority of police is being threatened, you are not supposed to say it will all lead to a riot, for you are simply then inciting a riot by saying the word ‘riot’.
If you are truly a responsible minister, you are supposed to calm down the groups, more so, tell off the group that was behaving badly, unless of course you are for bad behaviour yourself.
Even if you were not with Bersih, a group of rowdy youths kicking your cars and jeering at you is enough to scare you, or does Ku Nan enjoy such kind of an excitement on the roads?
As for the police, while they should be applauded for having managed the tense situations today, they should not allow for anyone to provoke or undermine the police authority, even if they are from the Umno ruling party.
Those who undermine police authority should be arrested immediately and let off with a stern warning.
In staying silent, as the social media acts very fast, for very soon, the public will be judging you by the public recordings upped and watched by millions around the world, even before you get to playback your own.
Or is the police waiting for something worse to happen before they take action?
Police’s work is to protect the innocent, even if the innocent does not have a permit to do a convoy. Or maybe they have certain SOPs which we are not aware of?
As for politicians, elected or otherwise, it is best to just shut the gap below your noses if you have nothing helpful to say to diffuse a tense situation.
Zakiah Koya@The Heat Malaysia Online