Friday, July 15, 2011

Queen 'Bersih' meets Najib

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

Britain's Queen Elizabeth greeted Prime Minister Najib Razak during an audience at Buckingham Palace in central London on Thurdsay. What could not be missed was the bright yellow dress worn by the British monarch, known for her subtlety and wit.

But amused or not, Najib and wife Rosmah Mansor bowed low before Her Majesty despite the unmistakable the shade of yellow she sported and which had been adopted by Bersih, a Malaysian movement for free and fair elections that was recently outlawed by Najib.

In the scandal sheets again over a gargantuan diamond ring said to be worth RM24.4mil (or about US$8mil), Rosmah also made sure to keep her hands tightly clasped during the photo-shoot. But even so, she could not resist wearing a string of pearls the size of marbles.

However, it was not Rosmah's jewellery or lavish spending that set tongues wagging. It was the yellow of Queen E's dress that drew attention.

Even the flowers in the vase were yellow, and it is believed the Queen chose the colour to send a strong signal to Najib, who had ordered a harsh crackdown on a peaceful citizens march organised by Bersih last Saturday.

The July 9 Walk for Democracy saw police shooting tear gas and chemicalized water directly into the crowds that thronged the streets of Kuala Lumpur, leaving thousands injured and one dead. More than 1,600 were arrested and several remain in remand without trial.

Calls to resign

Calls are mounting for Najib to step down but he has ignored these, galling his countrymen further with comments that underscore a growing arrogance and desperation to cling to power at all costs.

“It was quite mild because although they were taken in, they were released after eight hours and they were treated really well. There was no undue use of force and the demonstrators were dispersed using minimum force,” Najib told CNN.

The United Nations and Washington have earlier in the week issued separate statements rebuking the Malaysian crackdown.

"We are very concerned by the recent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators by the government in Malaysia," Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told AFP.

"We are alarmed at the targeting of individuals for championing the rights of Malaysian citizens to express their opinions and to peacefully assemble."

At 10, Downing Street

Bersih is a coalition of 62 top NGOs and had organised the July 9 march to draw citizens' support for free and fair elections. But Najib insists there is nothing wrong with the existing system and has blamed Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for stirring up trouble.

Meanwhile, in London, Najib also met his British counterpart David Cameron for talks aimed at boosting bilateral relations.

Earlier, the Malaysian leader was met on arrival at at the UK Foreign and Commowealth Affairs Office by its Secretary of State William Hague, before walking a short distance to meet Cameron at 10, Downing Street.

In the Malaysian delegation was also Najib's cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Hisham had outlawed Bersih in a bid to suppress its call for a cleanup of the country's notoriously corrupt electoral system.

He also gave the green light for a string of arrests that have been described as a "binge of madness" by the Malaysian civil society. Anyone who wore yellow in the days running up to the Bersih rally was arrested on the spot.

Would Hisham arrest the Queen then?

- Malaysia Chronicle

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