Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 today confirmed that the impending rally was to protest the government’s continuing “denial and inaction” over the 1MDB scandal.
This is especially after the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had filed civil suits to recover billions in assets with funds allegedly misappropriated from the state-owned investment firm.
Reading from a prepared statement, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said they believe that “not protesting is not an option”.
The rally – the date and details of which will be announced in due course – is meant to pressure Putrajaya for greater accountability, she explained.
“As citizens, we must make a strong stand against this grand corruption and betrayal of trust.
“There is a serious dereliction of duty by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet members who are entrusted to protect the interest of the people.”
At the press conference, Chin said the priority was now to raise awareness about the rally via roadshows and a series of smaller protests, including #TangkapMalaysianOfficial 1.
Bersih 2.0’s announcement today comes as no surprise as it had last week said it was considering organising a peaceful rally for the same reason as presented today, following the DoJ action.
The upcoming rally would also be a litmus test of sorts for the electoral reform group after the previous rally made headlines for attracting a predominantly Chinese crowd which subsequently turned into a racial issue, and also led to a racially-tinged counter-rally organised by the Red Shirts.
The failure to draw a larger Malay crowd for Bersih 4 – which was attributed to PAS’ decision to sit it out – at the two-day rally in August last year, was also notable for former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s appearance on both days.
The announcement today will also likely see another counter-rally held by Umno’s Jamal Yunos, who earlier today reaffirmed his vow to hold such a protest in response to Bersih.
Bersih 2.0 also announced it has Pakatan Harapan’s backing for the next rally.
MalayMail Online today quoted PKR Vice-President Nurul Izzah Anwar as saying that the Opposition coalition’s support for Bersih 5 “was a given”.
“You need not ask. It is our responsibility. We have not officially discussed it but I have no doubt the entire party backs the movement,” she told the portal.