Written and Photographed by Nile Bowie
Scenes of chaos unfolded on the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur this past weekend, culminating in an event that many have called the most defining moment in recent Malaysian history. Thousands of people, many well intentioned first time demonstrators gathered to voice their discontent towards the Malaysian electoral system under the umbrella of Bersih 2.0, calling itself ‘The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’, which is comprised of a ‘coalition of like minded civil society organizations unaffiliated to any political party’. Amidst this climate of seeming neutrality, the ruling Malaysian political party Barisan Nasional declared the gathering illegal and has made stark allegations regarding group’s true intentions, accusing the movement of utilizing mass fervor to strengthen foreign funded political parties associated with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minster and former Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has admitted to Malaysian Press that two US-based organizations, the National Democratic Institute (which receives funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy) and George Soros’s Open Society Institute have donated an undisclosed amount of money to the organisation; these think tanks and Intelligence front groups based in the United States are synonymous for authoring US foreign policy and shaping world opinion towards foreign leaders as they actively fund various oppositions movements through color revolutions, which lead to the installation of leaders of whom are friendly to objectives of the Anglo-American establishment and profiteers of corporate high finance.
Anwar Ibrahim issued a statement in Asian Wall Street Journal suggesting that developing countries should stop “pointing a finger at speculators and put their houses in order first” by ending their “ambitious plans for outlandish projects.” Perhaps, Anwar views the symbol of Malaysia’s economic prosperity, the twin Petronas Towers as outlandish. The tension between the two grew as Mahathir claimed, "Prospective colonialists and their puppets in Malaysia are still trying to weaken this country" and that Anwar “used foreigners and the foreign media to support the actions of his supporters in order to topple the government of our country, his country.” After his years as Deputy Prime Minister, Ibrahim’s close friend, Paul Wolfowitz hired him as a consultant to the World Bank, amidst stints with George Soros-funded International Crisis Group and Dick Cheney’s Foundation For the Future, essentially an engine of South East Asian regime change. While Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad may not have led a mistake-proof administration, his assertions on how to handle the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis were bold and his administration presided over an ultimately successful economic transformation of Malaysia, from an exporter of raw material to a manufacturer of steel and vehicles. Cases of police brutality against Anwar Ibrahim during his incarceration are regrettable; his politics are obviously a threat to Barisan Nasional as riot police targeted him during the Bersih 2.0 demonstration by horizontally firing a tear gas canister in his direction, which struck Ibrahim’s body guard, collapsing his jaw.
Accounts of police brutality plague attendees of the
Bersih 2.0 rally, riot police engaged the use
of tear gas and chemical laden
water cannons against demonstrators.
The Bersih 2.0 rallies succeeded in briefly unifying
Malaysia’s various ethnic groups
amidst a history of racial tension.
Malaysia is a multicultural society with a history of race related tensions between the predominantly Islamic Malay ethnicity of whom tend to control political bureaucracy through the preferential treatment of members within their racial group and ethnically Chinese Malaysians, descendants of settlers and economic migrants seeking employment in Colonial British rubber plantations of whom today dominate the business and commercial sectors and hold the highest national income. Regardless of Bersih 2.0’s objectives or its utilization from opposition leaders, the mass gathering succeeded in creating a patriotic and carnival-like atmosphere of unity between its participants of all ethnicities, as they behaved nonviolently and in uniformal stride for greater representation prior to riot police distinguishing any chance of dialogue by dispersing the gathering with waves of tear gas and chemical-laden water cannons, amidst numerous cases of heavy handed police brutality and arbitrary arrests, to the extent of launching tear gas canisters into the compound of a nearby hospital where demonstrators sought cover. Initially, many Malaysians may naively welcome support from American Institutions, which market themselves on keen selling points such as ‘instilling democracy and funding freedom’, this funding is not intended to alleviate corruption or to justly persecute police brutality, it is intended to increase Washington’s presence in countries integrated within China’s economic orbit and the eventual installation of a compliant opposition leader, friendly to the bidding of International Financial regulatory bodies and planners of the New Financial World Order.
Amnesty International has urged the United States Government not to be a spectator while Malaysian authorities defy human rights by dispersing its demonstrations, it’s director adding “If the U.S. government does not take strong approach to human rights in Malaysia, it will seriously affect the United States credibility and effectiveness on human rights in the region”. Dramatic coverage from Al-Jazeera prods the same wound while UN experts warn that the methods of crowd dispersal exercised by the Malaysian authorities actively undermine democracy. While it is distressing to see well-intentioned people from every age demographic gather in the pursuit of a more conducive order in their electoral system be subject to police brutality, their activism will be leveraged and exploited by media outlets and foreign governments to undermine the credibility of the Malaysian authorities, which obviously then provides an outlet for Western Governments to back their own opposition candidate. NGO’s urging the United States Government to enter the dialogue on human rights abuses is equivalent to using a searing branding iron to treat third degree burns. In fact such statements reflect total negligence for human rights by summoning a country currently involved in five wars in the Middle East and North Africa while enforcing heavily militarized domestic police protocol. While aggression cannot be denied on the part of Malaysian police who dispersed the event, it is curious that similar methods of crushing peaceful gatherings utilized in Europe, Israel and North America are met with a total media blackout, often using more elaborate forms of dispersal such as rubber bullets and sound frequency cannons on small gatherings dwarfed in comparison to the volumes of people present at the recent Bersih demonstration.
Bersih 2.0 Chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan has
admitted to receiving funds from George
Soros’s Open Society Institute, among
other donors, which notoriously fund opposition
movements’ intent on regime
change in favor of US foreign policy.
Obviously the mainstream accounts make little mention of Internationalist billionaire George Soros and his direct donations to the Bersih Organization, a man who has previously rustled feathers with leaders of the Barisan Nasional, such as former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, a vocal critic against the official account of the September 11th attacks, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and regulations of the financial institutions such as the IMF which utilise "gun to head" policies of national budget restructuring through lending conditions and structural adjustment programs. Mahathir has previously made accusations against George Soros for using his influence in the currency speculation market to contribute to engineering the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis as a punishment for allowing Myanmar to join the ASEAN Union. Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara reported a loss of approximately six billion USD when George Soros previously placed bets against it. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appealed to Madeleine Albright, stating the Malaysian Ringgit and ASEAN currencies "continue to be bedeviled by currency fluctuations caused by hostile elements bent on such unholy actions. It is the height of international criminality that the fate of millions could be subject to the mercy of a few unscrupulous traders.” During the 1997 meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Hong Kong, Mahathir stated, “Great countries tell us that we must accept being impoverished, because that is what international finance is all about. Obviously, we are not sophisticated enough to accept losing money so that the manipulators become richer. We are also warned that these are powerful people. If we make a noise or we act in any way to frustrate them, they would be annoyed. And when they are annoyed, they can destroy us altogether, they can reduce us to basket cases.”
Mahathir’s views on the negative effects of currency trading and speculation from 1997 are a breath of fresh air, especially in today’s climate where wars are fought over financial regulations, as seen in the recent attack on Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who sought to create a Pan-African Dinar currency backed in gold. Former Indonesian President Suharto submitted his resignation while IMF riots swept his country, as the International Financial Regulatory bodies demanded the abolition of government subsidies on staples such as rice and bread while cutting investment contribution towards State-run enterprises; chaos ensued in the streets as the Indonesian Rupiah suffered a debilitating 85% devaluation at the hands of International speculators. On the subject of the crisis in Indonesia, Mahathir offered, "Can it be that all the assets of that huge country, with 220 million hard-working people, are suddenly worth only one-sixth of its previous value? What, indeed, is the worth of a nation, if someone can devalue and even bankrupt it?" Mahathir attracted the envy of other emerging markets by creating exchange controls in defense of the Malaysian Ringgit, which safeguarded the currency, as it’s regional neighbors suffered IMF imposed austerity.
George Soros is a Internationalist whose reputation clearly shows him to be no friend of the Malaysian people, the fact that Ambiga Sreenevasan has accepted funds from his Open Society Institute while claiming Bersih 2.0 to be “wholly funded by Malaysians” is simply not true and should raise more than an eyebrow. George Soros has been an integral figure in the funding of opposition movements in the Arab Spring, only to pave the way to governance for opposition leaders such as Mohamed ElBaradei and other trustees of think tanks and other likeminded US based outlets that would be happy to exploit their own people in a bid to grab power. In total covert imperialism, Soros has further contributed funding to organisations attempting to author a new Egyptian constitution. Soros’s influence over the mainstream media is astounding; Fox News reports over thirty major news organisations receive his funds, surely this friendly contribution would not contribute bias to the programming content in anyway. BBC reports Soros vainly calling for regime change in Iran by insinuating an overthrown by means of the “bloodiest of revolutions”. Malaysians may not be happy with the current Prime Minister Najib Razak and the coalition of Barisan Nasional (which has practically ruled Malaysia since it’s independence), however it is unfortunate that popular opinion of the masses in countries around the world are utilized as a vehicle for undermining national sovereignty and eventual regime change.
In the Malaysian context, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim would likely be the beneficiary of the unrest created by Bersih 2.0, as the demonstrators will express their feelings of repression during the next Malaysian election. After the previous Bersih demonstration resulted in similar methods of dispersion, Anwar’s opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) party gained control of four state Governments. Concerning the Bersih demonstrations, Dr. Mahathir offered, “Its objective is to tarnish the government’s name and the police, and with that the opposition parties will win. There will be some people very angry who will probably, because of the current arrests and action taken, be disenchanted with the Barisan Nasional.” Curiously enough, Anwar Ibrahim served as Deputy Prime Minster from 1993 to 1998 under the administration of Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad. The pair initially disagreed on the utilization of recovery methods during the 1997 Asian Economic Crisis. During a 1997 meeting of the Malaysian Cabinet, Ibrahim conceived something of an economic coup by approving IMF austerity measures without consent of then Prime Minister and vocal critic, Mahathir. Anwar favored an economic view open to speculators and defended George Soros as he threatened to ‘destroy the country’ and remove Mahathir from power. During a visit to Malaysia, Al Gore referred to the mobs of people in the streets led by Anwar shouting Reformasi! as the “brave people of Malaysia”; the reforms Al Gore had in mind were strict IMF conditionalities which would cause strict foreign control over the Malaysian economy, of which Mahathir had spoken and guarded so eloquently against.
|Ibrahim at the Pentagon with |
US Secretary of Defense,
William S. Cohen
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim clearly
targeted by authorities as riot police shot a
tear gas canister in his direction, collapsing
his bodyguard’s jaw.
In this climate of apparent foreign funding subversion, the ruling Government’s actions have played out poorly. They have succeeded in appearing to be authoritarian to the international media and their actions have contributed to many Malaysians feeling spiteful, repressed, neglected, and left viewing Barisan Nasional as a self-serving hollow body. Irrespective of Bersih’s self-publicized disassociation with any political party, surely the actions of the ruling Government spoke volumes to indirectly strengthen the opposition parties led by Anwar Ibrahim. The pursuit of clean and fair elections by means of using indelible ink, postal ballot reform, and maintenance of the electoral roll are coherent and rational goals that would help to reduce corruption within the electoral system, they are goals worth fighting for. However, an investigation of funds Ambiga Sreenevasan claims to have received from George Soros and the National Democratic Institute is imperative.The Inspector General of Police recently announced an investigation of Bersih’s admitted foreign funding while commissioning the Malaysian central bank, Bank Negara to assist in tracing the international money trail. As Western-owned international media has leveraged the plight of the Bersih movement’s activists, it’s opposition leaders are surely bound to receive credibility as Ibrahim warns of further demonstrations materializing in the form of ‘Yellow Saturdays’. If the opposition politics of Anwar Ibrahim use Bersih as a vehicle for his parties’ ascendency then ultimately, the Malaysian people will lose.