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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bersih a dirty word and free and fair elections are taboo

Bersih a dirty word and free and fair elections are taboo

LETTER We have just finished a wonderful holiday in Malaysia. Except for a few things, like the toilets and the drivers, it was great. The people are friendly and helpful. The food is quite exciting and the country is spectacular.

There was one incident, which caused us no concern and no problem, but left us more than a little baffled. We were in the Chow Kit area buying some things to take home when we found some shirts with “BERSIH 2” on them. We asked the man what the word meant and he said “clean”.

So, we bought some. They were good quality and cheap. As we were leaving the stall area we were approached by a man who warned us not to wear the shirts or we would be in trouble with the police. We went back to our hotel thinking that we misheard the man at the stall who sold us the shirts and that bersih must be a very dirty word. So we asked the concierge and he told us it meant “clean”. So we were confused.

At dinner that night, we struck up a conversation with the people at the next table. We raised the matter with them. They told us the shirts represented a call to the people and Government for clean and fair elections. They also told us that people wearing the shirts are being locked up without trial for waging war against the King. They explained that the Government and some people were against free and fair elections.

Fair enough, it is not our country. What we still do not understand is why the King would be against free and fair elections because he is not elected. Our friends warned us that even talking about free and fair elections could land us in gaol.

Perhaps the government could put signs at the airport warning travellers that bersih is a dirty word in Malaysia and that the King and Government are against free and fair elections. In this way, no one will make a mistake that could land them in trouble.

Doug and Helen White,
Flinders Park,
South Australia

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