Rein in the Red Shirts now

red shirt

By T.K. Chua

It saddens most of us to see how our country has degenerated on many fronts. The latest is the “counter-demonstration” and “blockade” cultures staged by the Red Shirts.

Since when has democracy given us the right to block or disrupt demonstrations organised by others? Since when has a duly-elected MP lost the right to give support or participate in a demonstration?

Democracy is a contest of ideas. Politicians compete to sell their ideas, policies and programmes to the people. Everyone has the right to “sell” in a democracy, including the Red Shirts. But the right to sell surely does not include the right to block or interrupt others from selling.

We may add special favours to our nasi lemak to attract customers, but certainly we can’t prevent our competitors from selling nasi lemak as well, can we? This is what the Red Shirts are trying to do – they have no appetising nasi lemak to sell, but they want to prevent others with good nasi lemak from selling.

If the Red Shirts think Bersih is wrong, they have every right to organise or hold demonstrations or road shows of their own to inform the people. They, too, could go from town to town to sell their ideas but certainly not in the manner they are doing now.

Staging road shows and demonstrations at the same place and time as their opponents is hooliganism, not an exercise of democratic rights. They are deliberately trying to provoke a confrontation.

It is also not right for the Red Shirts to berate MPs participating in Bersih roadshows. It is the duty and the job of all right-minded MPs to be politicians, to uphold democracy and to support causes they think are the right things to do.

I can’t see how a MP elected by the majority in a constituency should be subjugated or cowed by a group of hooligans bent at exercising raw force. If Red Shirts could berate and intimidate a MP, I wonder how they would treat ordinary citizens trying to exercise their democratic rights.

It is about time to rein in the Red Shirts. The people must feel the outrage. This is most basic if we wish to remain a democratic society. – FMT

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