This weekend, Malaysians from all walks of life will march through the streets of Kuala Lumpur in a procession of more than 100,000 participants. At least that’s what Bersih expects.
Bersih 4.0 may be the largest demonstration ever recorded in the annals of Malaysian history, and all for the sake of telling the Prime Minister to step down. Like previous Bersih rallies, this weekend’s event is likely to feature a truly Malaysian turnout of all races, religions, and creeds, befitting the time of the month we find ourselves in, united against what many perceive to be the greatest threat our country has faced in our all too brief history as Malaysia.
Whether or not the rally will have its intended effect on Najib is debatable. He has shown a resilience and guile that not many Malaysians expected to find in him, say, a year ago. His tenacity in clinging to the top post in the country has been nothing less than remarkable, despite the best efforts of former premier Mahathir Mohamad and the Opposition, not to mention elements within Umno itself.
Mahathir is due in Johor on Saturday to give a talk that is bound to be explosive in and of its own. The elder statesman knows that emotions will run high this weekend. Perhaps he believes that it is the perfect time to strike with more revelations – and in Johor, where the anti-Najib sentiment has grown since Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked from the Cabinet.
And so a question presents itself: will Mahathir march with Bersih on Sunday?
Bersih would afford Mahathir a great platform from which to spread his message. Even if he is not allowed near a microphone, the image of Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, at the age of 90, walking at the head of a procession of yellow-garbed humanity, would make even Najib’s most stalwart lieutenant shiver in trepidation.
Furthermore, as the man who has been at the forefront of the battle against Najib, his presence will be more than just symbolic. It will be a statement, an unquestionable directive from Mahathir and the people for Najib to step down.
Mahathir’s presence will also, perhaps, legitimise Bersih in the eyes of Umno members who share the sentiment but are unwilling to join the “Opposition agenda” or the “non-Malay agenda” and so on and so forth. His being at the rally will signal that Bersih is for all Malaysians, and that there are only two sides of the fence in the current political situation – Najib’s side and the people’s.
Mahathir does not even need to march. Just his being among the participants will make enough of a statement to those in Umno who are still on the fence. Despite the criticisms that have been directed at him, Mahathir is still revered by a large segment of society, and his endorsement still carries weight with some.