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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Bersih 3: 'Hand Gesture Politics' to 'Occupy Dataran' ?

Anwar has some explaining to do, says The Economist

KUALA LUMPUR: Video footage of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during Bersih 3.0 posted on YouTube shows him making a curious rolling gesture with his hands to PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.

Within seconds, PKR supporters breached the police barricades and charged into Dataran Merdeka, prompting the police to respond with tear gas and water cannons to prevent a stampede.

In an interview with Radio Australia on Tuesday, Anwar denied that his hand gesture was a signal to protestors to breach the barricades, instead claiming that it meant “negotiate with the police”.

While the hand gesture is open to interpretation, a few outside observers had their own take on it.

“Mr Anwar has some explaining to do”, was The Economist's verdict and, here in Malaysia, Anwar's role in Bersih 3.0 has been criticised by people from both ends of the political spectrum.

At a PKR press conference on Monday, independent filmmaker Benji Lim accused Anwar of endangering the lives of protesters, as well as jeopardising Bersih's cause.

“The protest was completely hijacked by the opposition,” he claimed, before being bundled unceremoniously out of the room.

Even Bersih 3.0 chief organiser Datuk S. Ambiga noted Bersih's politicisation by opposition leaders, telling journalists that she “cannot control what they say”.

Anwar has dismissed any criticism of his conduct. Instead, at the press conference, he launched an attack on the government, accusing the Barisan Nasional leadership of behaving like Stalin and Hitler.

He went on to suggest his fate was comparable to a Nazi concentration camp victim a claim made on the exact anniversary of Hitler's death.

Political observers say that Anwar has often been seen indulging in “hand gesture politics”, revelling in grand spectacles but offering voters little in terms of a detailed blueprint for transformation.

Some say Anwar's “hand gesture politics” appears to have backfired.

Don't be surprised to see him spend much of the coming weeks and months explaining what his Bersih hand gesture really meant. -Bernama

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