The Bersih 2.0 gathering on 9 July and the crackdown that preceded it captures our attention in this issue. Bersih is, of course, a civil society coalition of NGOs campaigning for clean and fair elections. This campaign couldn’t be more timely.
Francis Loh reminds us of the unlevel playing field and the Election Commission’s loss of autonomy. Lim Teck Ghee reinforces the case for the Bersih gathering, pointing to an academic consensus of the glaring shortcomings in the system.
The momentum for the campaign has prompted certain quarters to launch a scare campaign against the rakyat. In our cover story, Tommy Thomas is concerned that we are sliding into a Police State with no place for the Rule of Law. Cuci-cuci Malaysia looks at who exactly is intimidating the rakyat and exhorts Malaysians to separate the wheat from the chaff and choose what is right and just.
We carry a couple of poems inspired by recent events. In Samad Said’s ‘Unggun Bersih”, he describes our democracy as wounded, arrogant and disgusting. He dreams of a new democracy that is as brilliant as the sun, united in purpose. Nasir’s poem is a moving lamentation about the recent arrests.
We especially demand the release of six political activists, including Aliran member Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, who were harshly detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance. We urge you to send letters to the government to call for their immediate release.
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The climate of repression has not escaped the notice of international rights groups. Five prominent international human rights groups have come together to write a rare joint open letter to Najib.