Gathering of people's voices likely to be the biggest ever in Malaysia's history
PETALING JAYA: Pundits have predicted that Bersih 3.0 slated for April 28 will draw a crowd twice as large as its predecessor held last July.
The election watchdog today confirmed that it would hold a third rally for free and fair elections after the Parliamentary Select Committee’s (PSC) 22-point electoral reforms report failed to address fundamental electoral issues.
Nine months have passed since the second rally was held on July 9, 2011 but independent political analyst, Khoo Kay Peng, believed that the momentum has continue to thrive and will result in a massive crowd for two reasons.
“This will be possibly be the last rally before the 13th general election,” he said. “And secondly, other groups will also be riding on the rally to express their frustrations with the government.”
“The turnout this month will also be a true reflection of the people’s perception of how badly the government has performed.”
Khoo also stressed that the Bersih 3.0 organisers must retain their non-partisan stand if they truly wish to push for electoral reforms.
The Bersih 2.0 organisers were accused of colluding with Pakatan Rakyat after prominent opposition figures held joint press conferences with them in the lead up to the rally.
“The opposition will always support a push for electoral reforms because current system doesn’t work in their favour,” Khoo pointed out.
“But if the Bersih organisers keep too close to them and there is a change in government, I’m sceptical whether some of the more difficult reforms will still be pushed through.”
Not a neutral movement
KS Balakrishnan of Universiti Malaya, however, expressed cynicism at Khoo’s prediction and said that a larger crowd was unlikely as the opposition’s credibility has been dented.
When asked whether Bersih’s organisers were so closely linked with the opposition that the latter’s image had a negative effect on former’s neutral stand, Balakrishnan stated that he had never viewed Bersih as a neutral movement.
“Neutrality is based on principles and an avoidance of leaning on the opposition,” he said. “Anyway, I think there have been too many rallies in the country and yet another one won’t pull in a bigger crowd.”
According to James Chin of Monash University, if Bersih 3.0 could draw in a crowd of 100,000 people then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s plans to hold election in June would be shot.
“He has to postpone it or else people will say that he is running scared,” he said. “And in Malaysia if the people smell your fear, you are done for.”
Khoo’s anticipation of other groups riding on Bersih 3.0 has since proven true after Himpunan Hijau announced that it would be holding its own rally alongside it.
Himpunan Hijau was behind Malaysia’s biggest environmental rally in protest of Lynas Corporation Ltd’s rare earths plant in Gebeng.
Its steering committee member, Clement Chin, said in a press statement today that the gathering of people’s voices is expected to be the biggest ever in Malaysia’s history.
“We believe that the massive environmental pollution and destruction in the country today are caused by a dirty government,” he said.
“Therefore, working closely with Bersih 3.0 is highly logical and essential because a clean environment is only achievable when we have a clean government.”
People must decide
Himpunan Hijau’s chairperson, Wong Tack, declared that the people’s decision is final and that the Australian mining giant must leave Malaysia.
“If the government remains hesitant, then the people must decide,” he said. “If the government cannot function, then the people must run the government.”
“But there is still an opportunity for the government to reverse the unnecessary risks and sufferings faced by the people. If Najib upholds his motto of ‘Rakyat Didahulukan’ this issue will be resolved immediately.”