Bersih is an electoral-reform group started by concerned Malaysians who are unhappy with the way elections are conducted in Malaysia. However, after a five-year roller coaster ride, is the movement still relevant? On Saturday, October 22, ProSpect and Signifikir Ipoh organised a forum to discuss the viability of Bersih. Buzze Azam, Fakhrulrazi Mokhtar and Howard Lee were the panel speakers. The talk was held at Movr Event Space, Pasir Putih, Ipoh.
Howard Lee, the state assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, felt that Bersih still has the sting. However, Buzze Azam thought otherwise. “Bersih wasn’t a movement formed by the rakyat. It started because a few disgruntled politicians were displeased with the general elections results. But after five years, what have they achieved?” asked lawyer Buzze.
Fakhrulrazi felt that despite the glitches, the movement is on the right track. “All the group wanted is clean and fair elections. It’s as simple as that. Hopefully, they’ll achieve this dream one day.”
The much-publicised Bersih 5.0 convoy travelled from Penang to Selangor holding ceramah (talks) and distributing leaflets at major cities along the way. Aimed at raising awareness about Bersih 5’s demands and prevailing economic problems affecting the rakyat, each ceramah ended in the symbolic passing of the Bersih torch.
The Ipoh ceramah, held at Jalan Laksamana on the night of Saturday, November 5, featured 11 speakers altogether. They were Amir Abd Hadi, coordinator for Suaram, Mandeep Singh… Bersih, Wong May Ing, Yunus Jamhari, Tan Kar Hing, Wong Kah Woh, Howard Lee, V Sivakumar, former MB Dato’ Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon and Nga Kor Ming.
The peaceful gathering, under the watchful eyes of the police, was attended by an enthusiastic crowd of over 300. The talk began with the singing of “Negara-ku”.
Amir Abd Hadi, the first speaker, led the crowd with the song, “Buruh Tani” amidst roars of “Hidup! Hidup! Hidup Rakyat!”
“Bersih rally is attended by people of all races and beliefs who love the country. We’re not against any race, we’re against the corrupt and unscrupulous. Since Bersih 1.0, we’re united in calling for a clean and fair election whilst strengthening parliamentary democracy. After countless of us were imprisoned, chased and tear-gassed, we finally succeeded in getting the Election Commission to sanction the use of black ink for elections. Our fight for change must continue,” Amir implored.
“If the authorities are innocent, why are they afraid of Bersih’s demands? We don’t bear arms just yellow shirts! Our fight is funded by Malaysians because Bersih is a people’s movement,” Mandeep Singh insisted.
“Don’t be afraid to call a thief, a thief. Telling the truth is not an offence,” Mandeep added. He reminded everyone to play their part by registering as voter. “Only the ballot box can bring about change,” he concluded.
“It’s almost 10 years since the first Bersih gathering, and we’ve never caused any trouble, except for agent provocateurs whose intention was to sabotage,” explained Yunus Jamhari.
Bersih 5.0 will be held on Saturday, November 19 where a million is expected to attend a peaceful rally in Kuala Lumpur beginning 10am till 6pm.
A clean and fair election, clean government, strengthening of parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent and empowering the people of Sabah and Sarawak are some of Bersih 5’s demands.
Mei Kuan and Ili Amirul