If ever there were proof needed that the Bersih movement has attracted rent-a-crowd protesters then this is it. The Anti-Lynas group Himpunan Hijau says it will join the ever expanding list of causes trying to be heard on the streets at the Bersih 3.0 rally at the end of this month.
The group said in a statement that it is “logical and essential” that it join Bersih’s rally. We at The Choice do not understand what Lynas has to do with Bersih 2.0.
“Himpunan Hijau believes strongly that the massive environmental pollution and destruction observed in this country today are caused by a dirty government,” the group said, in an attempt to justify why a so-called environmental group would appear under a voting reform banner.
There are so many things wrong with this complicated, twisted collision of causes that it needs to be examined piece by piece.
Firstly, exactly what is Himpunan Hijau trying to achieve? Its stated aim is to stop Lynas, a project approved by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, a project so undeniably safe that PAS’s own nuclear expert was gagged by his own party when he tried to say so.
The project will be operational by July, it has the potential to earn RM5 billion an year and it can’t be scrapped without compensation being paid by the Malaysian Government to the Aussie mining company.
Moreover, Himpunan Hijau says it wants the project stopped but does not have a manifesto pledge from Pakatan Rakyat that they will scrap the rare earth plant should they form a government. Perhaps they should demand one from the “government in waiting” when they march on April 28? After all, there will be Pakatan MPs right next to them. (We would be very surprised if Anwar and his allies ever produce the manifesto they promised last December to unveil at their convention in Alor Setar in January).
And on the other side, why would Bersih join forces with Himpunan Hijau? Bersih has maintained throughout that it is not party political and that its sole focus is on electoral reform. By allowing other interests to join the fray it loses that focus and any lingering pretence of political neutrality.
The fact is that with the Parlimentary Select Committee agreeing to 22 major voting reforms and Bersih having won 80 per cent of what it asked for at the Bersih 2.0 rally last year, the protesters (and Pakatan) are urging people onto the streets for any and every reason because they know electoral reform is not the crowd-puller it used to be.
They also know that in the fine tradition of negative campaigning, creating disorder on the streets may be a useful weapon of mass distraction ahead of GE13.
Mixing Lynas with Bersih is cynical. It is intellectually dishonest. It is not a sign of a mature opposition. It is not really about the issues. It is about the noise.