Home Web Specials 2011 Web Specials What’s so ‘dirty’ about Bersih 2.0?

What’s so ‘dirty’ about Bersih 2.0?

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Surely, it’s not dirty thinking on the part of concerned Malaysians to crave for a Bersih Malaysia, muses Mustafa K Anuar.

We’ve heard it all. Dire warnings issued, threats yelled out, police reports filed, scathing commentaries published in incredulous and incredible news sheets. And all this prior to the planned Bersih 2.0 rally on 9 July 2011 in Kuala Lumpur.

If these “noises” were to be believed, our collective mind would be filled to the brim with mental pictures of Bersih participants, in the worrying words of Perkasa boss Ibrahim Ali, throwing stones and burning cars!

Why, these people might even go the whole hog and work themselves into a frenzy on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, wildly throwing Molotov cocktails into the tourist spots of, say, Bukit Bintang, storming the Parliament building, running amok and attacking whoever dares come their way.

Additionally, such wild and irresponsible behaviour, as this impression suggests, would have horrible consequences for members of the general public as it would hurt hard, for instance, the pockets of businesspeople, taxi drivers, and even hawkers, not to mention the immense traffic jam that would clog the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur. And, lo and behold, their rash and violent actions would be a dangerous threat to ‘national security’.

But is Bersih 2.0 really the wily monster that it has been made out to be? Are they really motley people whose desire is nothing but to be unruly on the streets and cause riots along the way? Are they so politically mischievous that groups like Perkasa are prompted and compelled to call to jihad to protect ‘public security’?

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The last time I checked, the first Bersih rally was relatively peaceful and successful in Kuala Lumpur. Bersih 2.0 is a civil society coalition, assures its chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, which plans to organise a peaceful street demonstration with the aim of bringing to public attention a list of demands over the way elections are held in the country.

By no stretch of the imagination can this primary objective be considered as being synonymous to breaking the law and pushing the country down the slope to anarchy and disrepute.

And the fact that the Bersih group holds dearly the notion of democracy and the right to expression and peaceful assembly explains why Ambiga respects the democratic right of other groups in civil society, such as the right-wing Perkasa, to peacefully oppose her group. In other words, Bersih has as much right as Perkasa to stage a peaceful demonstration in Kuala Lumpur, a right that is enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Besides, one would think – and hope – that the law enforcement agencies would see to it that the street demonstrations remain civil and peaceful and that the possible emergence of agents provocateurs would be quelled. Additionally, traffic jams could be kept to the minimum by these agencies so as to lessen the inconvenience possibly faced by the KL road users.

And if it seems too risky a venture to have both parties jeering at each other at close range, then the police may want to direct them to opposite directions. Or, allow them to demonstrate on a different day to avoid verbal, and perhaps physical, confrontation.

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For some strange twist of logic, Bersih 2.0 has also been accused by certain groups or individuals of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam. Again, this boggles the mind of morally upright and concerned Malaysians as the campaign that is being forged by Bersih 2.0 is aimed at gaining a universal appeal as shown below – and not one that promotes the interests of a certain ethnicity or faith against those of other communities.

A visit to the Bersih 2.0 website reveals, among other things, that their demands are to: (a) clean the electoral roll; (b) reform postal voting; (c) use indelible ink for voting; (d) have free and fair access to the media; (e) have a minimum 21-day campaign period; (f) strengthen public institutions such as the Election Commission, and the judiciary; (g) stop corruption; and (h) cease dirty politics.

In short, these are meant to ensure that the playing field is level to all and sundry, which should be in the interest and concern of all Malaysians, irrespective of ethnic and religious backgrounds, who treasure democracy, fairness, justice, transparency and accountability.

Surely these demands for electoral reform and justice are not against the true teachings of Islam and other revealed religions. If anything, the respective followers of these religions are enjoined to fight against material corruption and the corruption of public institutions in the long march towards strengthening democracy.

As if this isn’t enough to insult our intelligence, someone had put forward a suggestion that the forthcoming Bersih 2.0 rally be held in a stadium away from the attention and scrutiny of the larger society. To be sure, street demos are not meant to be confined to a closed area as would be the case with musical concerts such as Lady Gaga’s, Justin Bieber’s and other similar gigs.

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When you think of the good things that Bersih 2.0 is helping to champion for the betterment of our society, you can’t help but suspect that the ugly depictions or premonitions of the forthcoming rally are merely desperate attempts by certain quarters to divert the attention of concerned Malaysians from the vital issues of free and fair election, democracy, transparency, accountability and the freedom of expression and of assembly. Or, is the rumbling from the likes of Perkasa calculated to merely provide ‘justification’ to the powers-that-be to stop the Bersih 2.0 rally from happening?

To reiterate, a free and fair election would go a long way towards strengthening democracy, the benefits of which will be gained by almost everyone, including the businesspeople, hawkers, taxi drivers and taxpayers.

Surely, it’s not dirty thinking on the part of concerned Malaysians to crave for a Bersih Malaysia!

Mustafa K Anuar is assistant secretary of Aliran.

This article first appeared in the Malaysian Insider, themalaysianinsider.com

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.

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18 Dec 2011 10.00am

What is not clean about ‘Bersih’ .. very well, allow me to highlight your Chairwomen @ Ambiga latest and ‘related’ standing on Seksualiti Merdeka about 2 months ago. Almost all religion do not accept ‘Gays’. Why? since it is not ‘Bersih’ and Aids (apart of sharing needles) is triggered from this sex ‘belakang’ that practice by this group. It’s out of CONTENT ??? .. before you comment my view, think twice .. Would you accept your Son married a MAN ? And would you tell Ambiga that it’s OK .. for her support towards this issue? Think twice fellow readers .. Would everyone “Rakyat Malaysia” can accept a leader that sound that not so “BERSIH” .. And think twice .. In UK and US even USSR .. all politician with BAD SEX BEHAVIOR been thrown out from their “Chair”. Not related to “BERSIH” !!! Well .. think twice fellow readers .. I do not want my leader to accept “Bad SEX” activities .. be it .. I am Muslim or Christian or .. even your religion standing. Think twice … think twice ..

9 Jul 2011 9.57am

Bersih is an idea. An idea that Malaysia CAN do things differently. The most important thing to do differently is the election process. Why is that so important as I am very sure a person such as Azmi Razel ar might ask? The reason appears in the newspapers almost on a daily basis. The scandals involving key public figures, organizations and institutions. Public figures such as Khir Toyo and Taib Mahmud with their unexplainable great wealth, organizations such as PKZ that lost billions of ringgit, institutions such as our own Polis DiRaja … innocents … die at their hands. … How do we change all these insane failures if the election process is such that it allows such things to happen unchecked and unchallenged? We have had 5 decades of experience to know that nothing will change unless the rakyat changes it. The existing political setup has no stomach, no spine and no nerve at all to change anything even though they are just as aware as the rakyat are of the grave miscarriages of justice that have occured. I have lived in Malaysia since Merdeka,… Read more »

azmi razel ar
azmi razel ar
8 Jul 2011 9.56pm

Bersih is just a tool to destroy the Nation from within , just like Eygpt or Indonesia or Philipines or Thailand .

Who is actually running Bersih ? who is sponsoring Bersih ? external factors are seen as the guiding hand and the PR is another guiding factor that have hijacked this inisiative.

Bersih have the chance and opportunity to hand over the so called memorandum to the King but Ambiga forgot her mission as her real mission is to cause chaos in the country and then with the help of her friend Hilary can blame the Leaders of the country.

what a bad intention on behalf of Ambiga >>>

11 Jul 2011 9.26am
Reply to  azmi razel ar

Either you are UMNO (supporter) or you are blind. Also what is there to destroy? Najib and gang already done a good job at it. Umno Baru already done damage beyond repair.

If BN so great, we could have achieved much more as a nation, but the FACT IS WE ARE NOT. So wake up dude

najib manaukau
7 Jul 2011 3.34pm

It is … gone mad and worse of all running scare that is the present ruling regime. Running scare of the juicy trains that they are riding in for the last 53 years and they know that their days are numbered.
Don’t forget to have these deceitful and corrupted Umno morons get indicted when their days come to an end. So sad and so bad !

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