Some 300 people took part in the Sarawak chapter of the Bersih 5 rally here this afternoon to highlight the impoverished state of the rural communities.
Amid a dramatic backdrop of dark clouds hovering over the Kuching amphitheatre and the rumble of thunder, Sarawak Bersih 5 chair Ann Teo spoke of the poor shape of schools in the interior and the need to fight for the marginalised residents there.
“We have 188 rural schools in Sarawak which are in various degrees of bad shape,” she said.
She faulted their condition on the rampant spread of money politics, claiming that rural voters are not free to exercise their constitutional and democratic rights.
She added that money politics will continue to worsen unless members of civil society made an effort to stop it.
“We would also like to continue empowering the rural voters,” Teo said.
Indigenous rights activist Abun Sui spoke next, and criticised the state government for backpeddling on its move to table a state legislative motion to reclaim Sarawak native rights.
“It is not a form of confrontational manner but a form of demanding equal status for Sarawak with Malaya,” the Gerakan Anak Sarawak chairman said.
The speeches were cut short when the skies opened up. The sudden and heavy downpour forced the participants to scatter and seek shelter.
The brief rally ended without incident even though the authorities had said the organiser did not have permission to use the amphitheatre as it is under renovation and posed a safety hazard.
About 50 uniformed policemen and Special Branch officers were present at the rally, as well as officers from the Kuching North City Hall.
IN THE GALLERY
Source : The Malay Mail Online