Bersih 3.0 and 23,000 participants

Posted on May 22, 2012


So what’s the big deal?

Just because they said there were 300,000 participants and the government says there’s only 23,000 (actually, closer to 22,270 judging by photos from seven locations), why should we bother?

Well, basically, the proponents of Bersih 3.0 Rally in Kuala Lumpur claimed it was a success because of the numbers that gathered that day.

But now that we’ve found out the numbers are nowhere near the imaginary and inflated figures they claimed, would they still pronounce the illegal gathering a success?

Of course they would!

Well, probably not as many would call it a success, but I’m pretty sure the leaders of the political parties, who hijacked the rally wouldn’t back down from their original guess-timates and would highly likely call into question the photographs that the government has taken from seven locations.

In fact, they’ll probably rely solely on the tightly-framed photos (and the mostly grossly photo-shopped images of the “sea of yellow” in the city centre) which shows no other colour, other than their political streak.

Of course, in Sarawak, Bersih 3.0 was pretty lame. I was there as one of the curious onlookers. From what I managed to on-look, I was not impressed.

Basically, when the only ones promoting it were PKR people, you sorta knew it would just be another gathering (in the dreadful heat) of people who don’t really like each other that much, in the first place.

I was disappointed that the Sarawak edition of The Star chose to use a photo (tight shot) that aimed to flatter the group of mostly PKR supporters wearing a colour that disguised their political streak. But then again, I guess The Star needs to sell papers, doesn’t it?

Sadly, there’s hardly room to talk about the original organisers of Bersih and the aims they initially stood for. They sold out and paid the price for it, and that’s that.

Maybe their sincerity was taken advantage of by the political parties, or maybe the political parties found it irresistible to take over something, which they knew would be a powder keg of rising tensions in Malaya.

Whether you base it on the numbers or not, Bersih 3.0 was a terrible sequel.

But I feel that another franchise of this production (which the organisers are already working on) will probably emerge into a violent epic, which I prefer not to watch or experience.

Fortunately, for now, Sarawak is still a place where cool heads dominate and I hope we can keep it that way for a long time to come.

How BERNAMA (via The Borneo Post) reported it:

Photographs from seven locations used to determine headcount for rally
May 22, 2012, Tuesday

HOW IT IS DONE: Grids being added to a photograph showing one of the locations where the Bersih 3.0 participants were gathered. — Bernama photo

HOW IT IS DONE: Grids being added to a photograph showing one of the locations where the Bersih 3.0 participants were gathered. — Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) applied the photographic blocking system on photographs taken in seven locations around the city to arrive at its estimate of 22,000 participants of Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, said Bernama general manager Datuk Hasnul Hassan.

Elaborating on the technique, he said it incorporated a simple graphic software with which the pictures were blown up before grids were added to facilitate headcount.

He said a 10 per cent margin of error was provided for on the number of participants to accommodate those who might have been hidden or blocked in the photographs.

He said the estimated figure did not include the security forces personnel such as the police.

“The photographs were taken from 11.53 am to 12.52 pm on April 28 by our photographers who were in a police helicopter.

“The images of participants were taken before they started to move to Dataran Merdeka. Later, the photographs were blown up as big as our computer screen, which is seven inches by seven inches until the headcount could be done,” he said after attending a Bernama 44th anniversary event at Wisma Bernama here yesterday.

Hasnul said the seven locations were Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Tun Perak/Jalan Silang junction; Jalan Sultan/Jalan Jebat junction; areas of Central Market; Jalan Pasar Besar; Jalan Kinabalu and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

He was commenting on Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim’s statement that the total number of people who joined the rally was 22,270 and not hundreds of thousands as claimed by the opposition.

“Our methodology for the headcount may not be the best but the numbers are quite reasonable. It is quite close to the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Corporation’s) configuration (25,000),” Hasnul said.

Although some people might dispute Bernama’s estimated figure, he said that the total participants could never be more than 100,000 or 300,000 as claimed by certain parties.

“We welcome those who want to know about this methodology. It is not the best method but it does serve its purpose,” he said, adding that Bernama’s photo unit took two days to do the grid boxes as well as the counting.

Information, Communications and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Joseph Salang graced the event where 38 employees received excellence awards while those who had served Bernama for 15, 25 and 30 years and staff going on retirement were also appreciated with long-service awards.

Also present were Bernama chairman Datuk Abdul Rahman Sulaiman and editor-in chief Datuk Yong Soo Heong. — Bernama