EXPOSE: Najib’s Press Directive on BERSIH 2.0


This directive was issued on 16 June 2011 and was signed by Jalil Hamid. He is the Head of National Communications Team, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Malaysia.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is surrounded by supporters, one of whom is injured, after a protest in Kuala Lumpur calling for electoral reforms

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim being escorted by supporters during BERSIH 2.0

Issue: BERSIH 2.0

By most accounts, the Bersih 2.0 protest on July 9 could turn out to be massive and will certainly go beyond issues of fair and free elections. With over 100 political, NGO and right groups could be joining the “March for Democracy”, we expect them to champion a slew of issues ranging from inflation to Teoh Beng Hock and Lynas. The protest, if not countered, could undermine the government, the economy and national security. This note sets out the policy guidance and the do’s and don’ts in managing the issue.


The process of mind-conditioning will continue in the run-up to July 9. The process will include:

  1. Discredit the organisation and its key leaders. Bersih is neither registered with ROS nor ROC. It is NOT an election watchdog but a group of politicians and politically inclined individuals who lack credibility.

  2. Label the rally as “perhimpunan haram” or “illegal assembly”, and that the people behind Bersih are trouble shooters and going against the Constitution and the law to gain political mileage.

  3. That they are just a front for the opposition.

  4. Since DSAI is already “out of the race” for premiership, he has to resort to street protests because PR can’t win GE13 through ballot boxes. He is seeking a “short-cut” to Putrajaya via undemocratic and unconstitutional means. Remind people about his Sept 16 bluff.

  5. DSAI is also using this to shift the public attention away from his legal and moral woes.

  6. Create anxiety that Bersih is working for the interests of foreign elements, who are out to destabilise the country.

  7. That BERSIH is not bersih (clean) after all as it is an illegal group out to create havoc.

Do’s and Don’ts

  1. KDN Minister, IGP, DIG and Internal Security and Public Order Director to brief media editors at KDN. Use the meeting to reinforce the branding as “perhimpunan haram”, that Bersih is an unlawful organisation and the perpetrators are out to create chaos.

  2. KDN, which has jurisdiction over all print media, needs to exert its authority in ensuring the press toe the line.

  3. Confine politicians to just making political statements. Let the police do their job.

  4. PDRM can start calling up Bersih organisers based on the hundreds of police reports lodged so far.

  5. Encourage the use of 3rd party validators.

  6. Pre-empt chaos and disorder (fear paradigm). The “show of force” by UMNO or silat groups well before July 9 may be imperative to deter demonstrators.

  7. The soundbytes in our favour MUST come from across the country and across the ethnic lines. The soundbytes should not just be confined to the Malays or those residing in the Klang Valley.

  8. We must not allow the rally to be exploited by international elements.

  9. As a pre-emptive measure, the authorities should stop the launch of Perhimpunan Bersih 2.0 scheduled for 19 June at the Chinese Assembly Hall. Likewise, a related Perkasa event called “Lawan Perhimpunan Bersih” at the Sultan Sulaiman Club on the same day should also be halted.

  10. SPR should counter Bersih demands for free and fair elections by highlighting the various initiatives it has undertaken so far. Use the highly successful Sarawak PRN as its model. It should not meet up with Bersih people.

Recommended media treatment

  1. Media to highlight stories of how businesses, retailers, tourists, shoppers, motorists and ordinary people will be affected. (July is the peak month for Arab tourist arrivals; plus the top three EPL teams will also be in town in July). Malaysia will be in bad light if the teams skip KL on security grounds.

  2. Question the source of funding for Bersih.

  3. The media will primarily be targeting the trio: DSAI (who is capitalising on this ahead of his July 15 Sodomy 2 trial), the newly minted PAS deputy chief Mat Sabu (who is the budak suruhan DSAI and tali barut DAP) and Ambiga.

  4. We will encourage the media to use file photos of Ambiga with PR leaders to highlight her close association with them. Ambiga has the history of leading street protests when she was Bar Council president.

  5. The media to use less of the same old faces (eg Zul Nordin, Zahrain, Ibrahim Ali) as “attack dogs.” Try to tap fresh faces (eg BN Youth leaders, some NGOs).

  6. Friendly bloggers and cybertroopers will continue to be mobilised.

  7. TV stations to constantly play up images of ugly demos in other countries.

Desired outcome

  1. Neutralise the opposition noise.

  2. Reinforce the view that public sentiment is NOT with Bersih and the opposition.

  3. Send a strong message that the government is full control of the situation, that it will not tolerate trouble makers and those who undermine the rule of law.

  4. No apparent adverse impact on investor confidence or Malaysia’s political risks.

Photo courtesy of AFP.