“So, how credible is it – this Bersih 3.0?” the Prime Minister looks at the three men in his office.
“Very credible,” the Inspector General of Police answers, “It is all over the internet: in blogs, independent news media, people’s Facebook, Twitter … everywhere. Our informers close to the organizers also confirm the date. They are serious on April 28, 2012.”
The PM looks at the IGP who shifts uncomfortably in his seat. “And how many do you think will turn up this time?”
“Hard to say. Unlike the previous one, Bersih this time is rallying the people in all major cities and towns in Malaysia, not just in KL. Probably in the thousands again?”
“It’s a bloody nuisance,” the Deputy Prime Minister interjects. “Street rally? Bah! I say we just rally up all the organizers and lock them up as a threat to our national security.”
“Yes, I agree!” the Minister of Home Affairs shouts, almost standing before the PM slowly raises his hands to calm him down.
“Yes, we could do that. But … we won’t.”
“No, we won’t,” the PM repeats, “because I am going to give in to their demands.”
The PM raises his hands again, this time to calm all three of them.
“Listen. Yes, we could do like before. We could warn police action on those who take part in the Bersih 3.0 street rally. We could set up road blocks and road checks. But I don’t think it will work this time round. Frankly, I am tired. Malaysians are tired.”
The three men could only stare at the PM, who continues, “So, I am giving in. We’ll give what Bersih wants. Everything. Inedible ink? Ok. Free and fair access to media? Ok. Minimum 21 days campaigning? Ok. And if Bersih makes a new demand that the government gives RM200 book voucher to everyone who votes for Pakatan Rakyat, that’s ok too.”
The three men say nothing. They sit rigid in their sits, wondering if they are witnessing the mental collapse of the PM.
“But in addition to giving in to their demands,” the PM explains further, “I am going to ask that BN joins Bersih’s street rally this April 28. We and our millions of supporters will march down the street, hand-in-hand with Bersih and opposition parties. We will proclaim that we too want clean and fair elections. We will put up yellow banners along all major streets in all major cities and towns. These yellow flags will say, ‘BN supports Bersih. BN wants a clean and fair election for a better Malaysia’ or something to that effect.
“We will also carry out ads and songs on radio and TV, saying that the government has always been supportive of a clean and fair elections, and that we are now showing it … forcefully since the 13th General Election is coming very soon.
“And on April 28, BN will hold street parties. We will invite rock bands and pop stars like, like …”
“Datuk Siti Nurhaliza?” the Home Minister offers.
“Yes! She is our supporter, right?” the PM smiles. “We will invite her, her friends, and others to do simultaneous concerts, paid by us, in all cities and towns on that day. We want all Malaysians to take to the streets for the free concerts on April 28. The day will become a music festival.
“We will also have a nationwide shopping spree, something like Year End Sale, but only for one day – on April 28. I will meet with departmental stores and offer them some incentives if they carry out these huge discounts. We want something like at least 50 to 70% discounts on that day.
“And I’ll also personally meet Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, to try to convince him to release iPad 3 in Malaysia on April 28.”
“iPad 3? Why?” the Home Affairs Minister asks, now looking completely bewildered.
“Yes, why iPad 3 indeed. Do you remember a rather odd but under reported event that occurred during the last Bersih rally?”
The three men stay quiet. The PM takes it as an indication that they do not remember.
“During Bersih 2.0 street rally, when everyone was so busy running around and getting heated up with the police, there was a group of a hundred people or so queuing up in front of an Apple store, seemingly oblivious to what is happening around them. They were waiting for the shop to open so that they could buy the newly released iPad 2 then.
“So I figure I’ll convince Apple to release iPad 3 in Malaysia on April 28, the same day as Bersih 3.0’s rally. And this time, the government will subsidize iPad 3 by 30% for every Malaysian who purchase it on April 28 only. Perhaps we will call it: One Malaysian, one iPad 3.
“I am also going to suggest that the government subsidizes an additional 30% for all petrol and diesel purchases made on April 28 only. Our country already enjoys the cheapest petrol and diesel prices in this region, so imagine a further 30% discount on the prices –”
“Prime Minister, sir, please stop,” the Deputy PM finally speaks. “What has all of this got to do with our problem with Bersih?”
“Why, my deputy, they have everything to do with Bersih.”
“I…we don’t understand.”
“Bersih and its supporters perceive us as being fundamentally corrupt and unwilling to listen to the people, to reform, and to make positive changes. And they hold this rally on April 28, thinking it will rattle us into making the same old wrong moves. They want attention – but not just any attention. They want to play victim, and they want us to react badly because it would corroborate their story and support their cause.
“But this time we won’t fight them the way they want us to fight them. We will take away their ammo. Instead of a street demonstration on April 28, it would be a street celebration. Instead of people coming to the streets for hate, people would come to shop, eat, and listen to free music all day long. Instead of the sole reason to demonstrate against the government, the street rally is suddenly diverted into multiple reasons.
“People who go into the streets to demonstrate on April 28 suddenly find themselves among others who are not there to demonstrate. In fact, to the others, the street demonstrators have become a nuisance and a distraction.
“You could say, we would dilute Bersih,” the PM says before he sips a little water from his glass. He has finished talking. He looks carefully at each of the three men in front of him. They are quiet. That’s ok, he thinks, because he waiting to see who would get it first – the first to understand his plans.
It is all three of them. They look at one another, as if to confirm telepathically their mutual understanding. They then smile, after which the PM follows suit.
Reverse psychology, they all thought in unison, so, that’s how it would be fought.