While I think that there are valid reasons for not liking what Wong Chin Huat did, I think that our police needs to learn some lessons in public relations. The police have been so heavy handed for so long that they don’t seem to know how to act with an even hand.
I would think that on the governments’ side, they would argue that he was the ‘ring leader’ and tried to stir things up by getting everyone to wear black on Thursday. Incidentally, I would be wearing black, if only because I have only black shirts left in my clean pile.
I think that this is quite different from getting people to wear yellow, like for Bersih. With yellow, it is easy for the police to catch the people who are involved. Not many people wear a bright yellow shirt. But for black, things are a little more dicey. Lots of people wear black, if only to blend in.
Moreover, they have probably learned that it is difficult to catch the masses. Instead, they should focus on the ‘leaders’. However, what the police and the government may have failed to understand is the nature of the present fight. There are no ‘leaders’ per se.
What the Internet allows is the flattening of hierarchies. Anyone with a connection and some perseverance can be a ‘leader’. Anyone with a blog can shout his mouth off. It’s kind of difficult to identify ‘leaders’ in the traditional sense anymore.
So, maybe the cops should bear this in mind for the future. Denying him an audience with opposition politicians is fine. But denying him an audience with his lawyers is definitely illegal in some book. They should have at least given him a chance to speak to the lawyers. That would have been good public relations.
In fact, the police could have even issued a public statement to the press, to explain the motivations behind their actions and what they plan to do. At the very least, that would neutralise the FUD that the opposition politicians try to create with this situation. The police are trying to create their own FUD too, but it does not work anymore. The people have gotten tired of it. Plus, the opposition politicians are much better spinners than the government.
So, I’ll be wearing black tomorrow, if only because I only have black shirts left in my clean pile and I do not want to wear some stinky shirt.