Home Civil Society Voices 2011 Civil Society Voices Bersih 2.0: Concerned academicians speak out

Bersih 2.0: Concerned academicians speak out

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Sixteen prominent academicians have issued a joint statement in which they propose steps to resolve the ongoing crisis and restore public confidence in the government’s ability to govern the country fairly and justly.

We, the undersigned academicians, wish to express our concern at the deepening political crisis in the country. It is unfortunate that such a crisis is emerging out of a legitimate campaign, initiated by a large number of non-governmental organizations, to institute reforms through their campaign, Bersih, to ensure the conduct of truly free and fair elections in Malaysia. Since the pursuit of such a campaign is undeniably noble, and timely, we are extremely perturbed that the government has resorted to harsh measures and use of draconian legislation to prevent the organisers from mounting a public rally.

We see the need for the leaders of Bersih to persist with dialogue with the bodies responsible for overseeing free and fair elections. However, we also appreciate the argument by the campaign’s leaders that such an assembly is necessary since discussions have long taken place, with little progress – thus the need for the government to take serious heed of the campaign’s recommendations for free and fair elections for which there is considerable support from the country’s citizenry.

We note too that public assemblies and marches in support of causes that have attracted widespread public concern are a common feature of all democratic systems. They are a legitimate expression of the freedom and rights of the citizens of a country. A government that uses the laws, institutions and resources of the state to suppress or repress such activities undermines its own credibility and claim to practising democracy. The actions of the government to curb this Bersih campaign will only hurt public perception of the government’s commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Further actions such as the use of the Emergency Ordinance on Bersih supporters will only result in the enhanced perception of a government that refuses to institute free and fair elections for fear of losing power, an impression we are certain the government does not want to create.

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We urge the following steps to resolve the crisis and restore public confidence in the government’s ability to govern the country fairly and justly:

  • Release all political activists held under the Emergency Ordinance.
  • Drop all charges against those arrested by the police for Bersih-related offences.
  • Permit Bersih the right to a peaceful march, if the organisers decide to do so. All other public marches should be allowed but with the timing and routes agreed to in advance to prevent any untoward consequences
  • Both Government and Opposition parties, as well as NGOs, to commit their supporters participating in marches and other public assemblies to a code of peaceful and civil conduct
  • Assurance by the relevant authorities that serious consideration is being given to ensure free and fair elections in the country.


  • Associate Prof Dr Andrew Aeria
  • Associate Prof Dr Azmi Sharom
  • Dr Christopher Chong
  • Associate Prof Dr Sharmani Gabriel
  • Prof Terence Gomez
  • Prof Lim Teck Ghee
  • Dr Lee Hwok Aun
  • Prof Francis Loh
  • Assoc Prof Dr Mustafa K Anuar
  • Dr Ooi Kee Beng
  • Janet Pillai
  • Dr Johan Saravanamuttu
  • Prof Tan Sooi Beng
  • Associate Prof Dr Yeoh Seng Guan
  • Prof Diana Wong
  • Prof Zaharom Nain

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 July 2011

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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R.Prem Kumar
R.Prem Kumar
11 Jul 2011 12.04am

Since when did Might (read BN) become superior to Right ( read Bersih)? Since when did the IGP command from the Hill Of Peace and actually leave the whole burden to be shouldered by the Acting CPO KL? To have compromised would tantamount to some originality on the IGP’s part. He alone did Hisham’s bidding who obviously knows that his Vice Presidency would never mature into Prime Ministership. Cos Nahcheap is not going to be around to pass the baton.

9 Jul 2011 8.10am

malaysia need the new day come

8 Jul 2011 8.11pm

more distinguished members of the public should come out with open condemnation of the obvious oppression on democracy.

7 Jul 2011 2.55pm

Two quotes from Victor Hugo are most apt:
‘There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come’. The UMNO/BN government is going to lose trying to fight against an idea whose time has come. They erroneously think they are fighting individuals who they can crush. Resistance, in this case, really is futile.
… This is a force that UMNO/BN is unleashing on itself, no one else is to be blamed for the changes to come that will sweep them out of power. Long live the rakyat of Malaysia!

20 Jul 2011 2.42pm
Reply to  Isma


‘There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come’ – Victor Hugo.

I absolutely agree with you. The Bersih participants were neither coerced nor bribed to attend the rally. They all came even under threats of abuse and detention.

The participants urge to attend the rally came from something intangible. A yearning to right things that they felt were wrong.

This flame will not be extinguished by water cannons or tear-gas.

5 Jul 2011 5.05pm

BERSIH has already won. The total disregard, yet again, on the wish of the rakyat to have a peaceful rally to voice their concerns is stripping the constitutional right of the individual. The unreasonable and crazy actions of the government and the police has raised the ire of most sane and even tempered people.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x