The Bersih co-chairperson says that the youth movement is a 'wonderful phenomenon'.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian youth have awakened and are now bolder in demanding their rights compared to their peers in the past, Bersih 3.0 co-chairperson S Ambiga said.
She said this today during a live interview on FMT RAW by journalist Stephanie Sta Maria in response to a question from a reader.
She was asked if Bersih 3.0 was in any way linked to the two youth movements, namely the students protesting against National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan scheme and the activists who called themselves “Occupy Dataran”.
The two groups have been camping at the historical site for the past two weeks.
“We’re not [linked to them], but I support what they’re doing. This is an exuberance of
youth at its best,” said Ambiga, referring to the determination of the two groups to stay on at Dataran Merdeka despite repeated attempts by the authorities – as well as thugs – to break them.
“My generation – I’m 55 now – has failed the next generation. We didn’t fight hard enough, during our time, when abuses were taking place and when we were losing our rights.”
“The youth now are not waiting, they are fighting for themselves. It is a wonderful phenomenon. I fully support them,” she said.
Ambiga said that “the years of repression in our educational system” could still produce students like this who are prepared to stand up for their rights.
On another matter, she denied a rumour that Bersih 3.0 has been paying people to come for the rally.
“The facts speak for themselves; why do we need to do that when we are selling T-shirts? Let me assure you, we don’t need to pay anyone to turn up. We don’t have the money to do that anyway.”
‘Come with courage’
Ambiga noted that the Bersih 3.0 T-shirts have been selling like hot cakes, but was coy when asked if Bersih 3.0 could really achieve its 500,000 target.
“We never know. We said it’s 500,000 worldwide. Our T-shirts are going out at 1,000 a day, and there are others selling them too,” she said.
Ambiga said that there are now 70 countries worldwide supporting Bersih 3.0 compared to 32 last year, adding that there is a big jump in the number of supporters this time.
“Come in the spirit of Bersih and you won’t be disappointed. Come with courage, don’t worry, and don’t miss out.”
Asked by a reader if the public should boycott the coming general election in a worst-case scenario, Ambiga firmly said: “No”
“I don’t believe in boycotting elections. No matter what happens.
“In fact, we should be coming out in bigger numbers to vote… we want to push for 100% voter turnout because this will mitigate some of the faults in the system. Boycott is not an option.”
Asked about the possibility of Bersih 4.0, Ambiga said the electoral reform group would want to see the government’s responses first.
“What we sincerely want is this: Please, delay the 13th general election until full reforms take place. If we work very hard from now on, putting in some safeguards, we should be able to do that by the end of this year.”
On whether she has considered contesting as a candidate in the coming general election, Ambiga said: “I’ve been asked 50 times, the answer is no. So now the 51th time, it’s still the same.”
Why not? “I’ve never been interested in politics and I will not change my mind on that.”