Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s presence in part of Bersih 2.0’s campaign in the Malay heartland could help boost the community’s participation in the Bersih 5 rally, the polls reform group said today.
Steering committee member and activist Hishammudin Rais said they were positive that Malay participation would increase significantly, judging from the response the coalition for free and fair elections had during its nationwide tour.
“His presence and that of Bersatu have had a positive impact and the response have been good…we managed to go into places that we could not enter before,” he told reporters at a press briefing on details of the upcoming November 19 rally.
“I think it has been very positive..,they have been a part of the campaign, doing the leafletting and organising,” lawyer and another steering committee member, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, told the same press conference.
Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said it would be hard to gauge the expected turnout, but was confident that it would be a success.
Low Malay participation in the previous rally gave fodder to the ruling coalition to dismiss Bersih 2.0 as an urban-centric, middle class Chinese movement that had no support from the country’s ethnic majority.
Some Umno leaders went further by portraying the coalition as a Chinese chauvinist group out to topple a Malay government.
Bersih 2.0 called the allegations baseless.
Today the group said it remains committed to the reform agenda, and that the point behind Bersih 5 is to fight for clean elections, a clean government and to strengthen democracy.
It also said the issue of clean governance cannot be separated from the controversy surrounding state fund 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is why Bersih 2.0 is demanding for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation.
“The Bersih 5 rally is organised as a response to the political crisis brought on by the 1MDB scandal. Bersih views it as a failure of our democratic system,” it said.
Chin said the police have been notified about Bersih 5 and theg group will give co-operation if needed. She is scheduled to meet the police at the Dang Wangi District Headquarters tomorrow to give out details of the planned protest.
“We will give our co-operation… but we also hope they can help facilitate the rally,” she said.
The group will have 1,000 “trained” security and 80 medical personnel prepared for Bersih 5. Chin said the security staff will be tasked to prevent any untoward incident and guide participants throughout at the protest.
But Chin said the police must also help provide security.
“It cannot be the sole responsibility of Bersih. The police must also help us ensure safety,” she said.
This include protection against a potential encounter with the “Red Shirt” movement, whose leader Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos promised to mobilise 300,000 people to prevent Bersih 5 from happening.
Bersih 2.0 said it would not be cowed by intimidation and the threat of violence, but have prepared guidelines on how to deal with provocation for participants.
“It be a non-violent resistance,” both Hishammudin and Fadiah said.
Source : SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID@The Malay Mail Online