It seems there have been a whole host of responses on the announcement of Bersih 4. Some are all gung-ho, excited to be part of another mass street demonstration, some are cautious of the risk of a crackdown, some reject the urging for Najib Abdul Razak to resign.
There has been little focus on the real call behind the rally and why people must go to the streets to demand reform to our institutions. Najib must resign because he has made clear his intention to disrupt independent investigations into 1MDB and his failure to be transparent about the allegations levelled against him.
Yet, this is not the primary call of Bersih 4. None of the signs at the Bersih press conference called for ‘Undur Najib’. The signs say:
1. Pilihanraya Bersih
2. Kerajaan Bersih
3. Selamatkan Ekonomi
4. Hak Membantah
For the past month, Bersih has been making consistently urging institutional reform and stopped short of calling for Najib’s resignation as investigations were ongoing. These institutional reforms have been clearly spelt out and involve changes to the electoral system, the Election Commission, the attorney-general’s powers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the powers of Parliament and so on.
We need to show those controlling our government that the people are wholeheartedly behind the reforms; that we believe they are the solution to ensure such corruption can never happen again.
While I can understand these are not as catchy as ‘Undur Najib’, it is important that these are the reasons Bersih wants people on the streets. For issues like parliamentary reform and the right to dissent, NGOs have tried lobbying in the corridors of power and the doors have been shut in their faces. The impression is the people do not care about such mundane issues, so nobody has to listen.
Bersih 4 will change that perception. It will show the people are determined in their fight for a fair system and they are behind Bersih in urging the 10 institutional reforms.
It is not about who replaces Najib or if the opposition is a mess, that is the business of politicians and political parties. This is about the rakyat telling those in power what we want with a strong, collective voice.
While the overnight stay may be too taxing for some, it is needed to show the seriousness of the reforms and the fortitude of the people in their demands. It will also be a time for the rakyat to gather and fully understand the reforms that are needed.
The atmosphere on Aug 29, 2pm, is likely to be the same as the start of the Bersih 2 and Bersih 3 rallies, the hope is for this one to be extended through the night to prove not all those that go to the rally are just in it for an afternoon stroll.
Threats of violence and political incompetence shouldn’t deter us from making our demands clear. As Malaysian citizens, it is our duty to do so.
ZOE RANDHAWA is advocacy and education officer, Bersih 2.0 secretariat.
We have to fix this nation for the next generation. We cannot hand them a broken nation
There is no change in the usual anti-Bersih rhetoric. “It is anti-government, it will ruin businesses, it will cause chaos.”