Saturday, November 10, 2007

The wrap: BERSIH

Updated with additional links.

All links will open in a new window.
BERSIH march
The context for BERSIH and its aims. Adjunct to this is the judiciary crisis, a crisis found lamentable by the Sultan of Perak, a widely respected former Chief Justice. PM says "rally not Malaysian way" and darkly alludes to wild behaviour. "Saya pantang dicabar" (I dislike being challenged), he says. If you missed this, Tan Soo Inn offers some words for Christians struggling with this issue. It certainly is not a clear-cut case for Christians I feel, and we should take some time to reflect on points of agreement and divergence. (A passage that should be considered, apart from Romans 13, is 1 Peter 2:13-17). The actual text of the memorandum is here.

This is the CNN coverage of the rally. They played up the Anwar angle, although the rally is more demonstrative of general dissatisfaction rather than anything to do with him. Asia Sentinel has an even more in-depth report, including this key sentence:
"...the Sultan of Terengganu, who currently holds the rotating kingship and is Malaysia’s constitutional head of state, ordering his royal guards to stand aside so that the marchers could deliver the petition despite the fact that police had refused to grant a permit for the rally".
Former NST editor-in-chief Kadir Jasin certainly thought that was significant. (link is in Bahasa Melayu). Jeff Ooi has photos and videos, including Al-Jazeera coverage and an interview with Ooi himself. I wished that Al-Jazeera had more explicitly identified Jeff Ooi as either a prominent blogger or from DAP, rather than a "journalist", although it doesn't invalidate any of the points he raises. More great photos here.

The Star spun it as an illegal assembly that caused nuisance, and downplayed the numbers, saying "more than 4,000 people" marched. Every other newsreport I read flatly showed that there were at least 7 times that number, with 30000-40000 probably about right. The mainstream media in general didn't give the march much coverage. Information Minister Zainuddin Maddin refutes claims of the use of force, according to the National News Agency Bernama. (A video of his antagonistic conversation with Al-Jazeera is here). An eyewitness account contradicts him, or at least shows that the Information Minister plays it down too much. I liked his "Malaysian television viewers are laughing..." line. Er, no. So he might have been a little theatrical, but that didn't change what happened. Rocky, citing MalaysiaKini, says journalists were not spared. I had not realised this, but there was a small gathering in London as well. Over 20 people were arrested. (Another report from an international news source has put it as high as 245). Here is a map detailing the key events at the rally. Personally, I think this is a sign that the PM is rattled.

Final link for the moment on this post: A roundup of post-BERSIH buzz.

Lastly, some words from Walter Moberly from my devotional notes, writing on Isaiah, and a challege from Ajith Fernando on an eternal perspective:

"Finally, we see that all nations of the world are accountable to the one true God, whether or not they recognise or acknowledge it. The nations whom Isaiah addresses are probably meant to represent the world as a whole as he knew it; so even if the world we know today is much larger in geography and population than anything Isaiah knew, the basic principle remains the same. Knowledge of God as revealed in Scripture is as far as could be from a private concern, but is about the truth of our world as a whole. It may only be on the day of judgement that the truth will fully be disclosed to all, but, whether our life situation is routine at work or home, or involves combatting institutional corruption, sex slavery, or degradation of the environment, our task bear witness now to what will be then."

"I have always been reluctant to use the language of priority...I prefer to simply say that our calling is to be obedient to God totally... we are called to be holistic. But part of holistic Christianity surely is the statement of Christ that all earthly gain is worthless if a person loses his life to eternal destruction...I will do all I can to encourage people to live the Christian life in society. But I will also follow Christ's example in placing before Christians the fact of eternal damnation and the glory of eternal salvation. And I will challenge them to follow the agenda of Jesus, who 'came to seek and to save the lost' (Luke 19:10)...".

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