Hornbill Unleashed

June 19, 2011

Bersih rally, again!

Sim Kwang Yang

The country is geared up for a second Bersih rally, to bring pressure upon the government to institute meaningful electoral reform in Malaysia.

The first Bersih rally was held on Nov 10, 2007. That managed to draw a huge crowd of opposition supporters, from all corners of Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Bersih marchers were set against the strict warning from the police and the Home Ministry’s declaration that the rally was “illegal”.

Even so, the rally organisers managed to present their demands for electoral reform in Malaysia to the Agong’s palace.

bersih rally 271207 02The whole city was brought to a halt by the massive gathering of rally participants and the subsequent police action.

And now, once again, the nation is holding its breath, waiting for the next Bersih rally, in less than three weeks from now.

According to rally organiser Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih is pressing the Election Commission (EC) to ensure free and fair elections in Malaysia.

They have demanded that the EC clean up the electoral roll, reform postal voting, use indelible ink, introduce a minimum 21-day campaign period, allow all parties free access to the media, and put an end to dirty politics.

The EC is particularly resistant to any party’s suggestion for changes to improve the electoral process in our country. It is unlikely that the conservative EC will initiate any process of meaningful change.

Therefore, we can expect another day of great confusion and uncertainty at the next Bersih rally.

Bersih magnet equals people power

The Bersih coalition has stood at the forefront of radical political change in recent times. They have succeeded in attracting thousands of supporters across the land.

bersih rally 271207 04The very fact that they have the audacity to organise this second Bersih rally is an indication of the growing self-confidence of pro-democracy forces, struggling against a repressive ruling regime.

I am in support of the Bersih movement for it represents a spontaneous movement, arising from the people, to improve the electoral process.

In a democratic society, significant and radical change must come from the people themselves, in order to reform their political system.

The Bersih coalition represents the most enlightened citizenry in our midst.

Bersih’s effort to clean up the voting system can have great consequences for the future of democracy in Malaysia. We must all give them our fullest support.

We Malaysians all know that our system of electing the government is defective, and full of loopholes. Elections can hardly be said, using any stretch of the imagination, to be free and fair in all aspects.

Vote buying in Sarawak and Sabah is still rampant, and this evil practice exists, too, in poorer constituencies in the peninsula.

A truly hamstrung democracy

The general election cannot be credibly described as an expression of the general will of the people.

At least we live and work in Malaysia, where there are still channels open for us to improve our democratic system. I am thinking of how our local situation compares with far more corrupt systems like Libya, Syria, Egypt and similar oppressive Arab societies.

There, elections are marred by even more blatant vote-rigging and unconstitutional practices, so that the people’s will has often been raped.

Here in Malaysia, we still have peaceful means of achieving electoral reform, though the road to progress is filled with pitfalls and man-made obstacles.

NONEThose in positions of power always resist change, to maintain their dominant position in Malaysian society.

We must all fight every inch of the way to bring about meaningful change to the rules of the game.

I have heard from local hawkers and petty traders, vexed that the Bersih rally will disrupt their business.

These are short-sighted concerns. Those of us making such complaints do not realise that any radical social change must exact its price on the ordinary citizens of the country.

Real social change will not come free, or even cheap to any of us. The implacably conservative forces in power will fight tooth and nail, every step on the road to their final defeat at the hands of democratic forces.

History is a painfully slow process that we must endure. But victory shall eventually come to all people who love democracy, fairness and social justice.

A mass gathering like the Bersih rally on July 9 is a significant event in a budding democracy like Malaysia.

Some hardship and inconvenience are unavoidable for the people at large to improve our future. But they are a necessary part of the growing pains of our young nation.

SIM KWANG YANG was member of parliament for Bandar Kuching, Sarawak from 1982 to 1995. He can be reached at sky8hornbill@gmail.com. All comments are welcomed.

1 Comment »

  1. UMNO apartheid kakis and their BN lapdogs should NEVER be voted into power EVER again, only MPs of any race who believe in the below deserve our vote :

    1) Freedom from Apartheid/Fascism
    2) Freedom from Religious-Persecution/Religious-Supremacy.
    3) Equality for all ethnicities and faiths in all aspects of policy, Law and Constitution.

    If these MPs do not exist, run for candidacy. And avoid nepotists and oligarchs of Pakatan also. MCA/MIC/Gerakan/PPP etc.. drop out of BN this GE13 and make a stand against APARTHEID, the people will forgive you enough to deal with corruption in GE14.

    Comment by AgreeToDisagree — June 19, 2011 @ 2:26 PM | Reply

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