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Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Bersih 4.0 alone won’t bring change”

Civil society leaders say it is more pertinent to conduct civic education in the rural areas than protesting in the federal capital.
KUALA LUMPUR: Several panelists at a civil society’s forum last night concurred that holding another mega rally such as Bersih 4.0 would do little in helping to achieve the intended change since the authorities are already familiar with the protestors’ modus operandi.
As such, it is more pertinent for the members of civil society to extend the meaning of, “take to the street” to include cultivating civic awareness among rural folks.
At a forum themed, “Wait for the general election or take to the street” last night, NGO Anything But Umno coordinator Harris Ibrahim warned that the people are tired of protests after protests as they were fruitless in the end.
“I am worried that if Bersih 4.0 (for clean and fair elections) is held, we would not get the crowd because people are already fatigued.
“People are very tired. You come out, rally for three four hours and go back, in the end nothing has changed. Umno would not give us the change we want.
“If we understand the aspiration of the people now, we call for a rally, we don’t go back until we get what we want,” he told a crowd of some 100 people.
Agreeing with Harris, Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan said a short rally would only achieve short-term effect.
“If we were to aim for long-term, we must stay there for long, for example 50 people camping out at the site.
“Besides, the people movement must expand to the rural areas. Now everything is concentrated in KL, it is not the way. The rural folks must join in the protest as well.
“Only with a bottom-up, grassroots-orientated movement, we can bring about changes and really liberalise the people,” he said in his winding-up speech.

Ambiga on re-delineation exercise

Earlier, Arutchelvan said going to the street and the ballot box should both be regarded as a form democratic expression and the government should stop demonising street protests.
He said the people will go to the street if they are up in arms on certain things, and it is their right to express their views.
Bersih outgoing co-chair Ambiga Sreenavesan, who mirrored Arultchelvan’s sentiment, said her electoral reforms watchdog would definitely call for a mass rally if Election Commission insists on carrying out constituency re-delineation exercise using the current electoral roll.
“If they use the same tainted electoral roll, the same problems are going to occur in the 14th General Election and we are going to get the same results.
“I know some of you may not agree, but I don’t think we should change the regime through street demonstration – we go there when something is not right.
“That’s why the re-delineation exercise is very critical. The fight for 14th GE must start now,” she told the crowd who responded with a loud, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Selangor PAS Youth committee member Mohd Fauzan Madzlan pointed out that it is crucial to properly inform the factory workers and rural folks who form the largest chalk of the 5 million young voters but at the same time remain passive on current affairs.
He urged those who actively take part in street protests to apply the same enthusiasm when going from house to house to educate these people.
When asked if money politics would dilute the effects of civic education in elections, he urged those who took money to be sober when casting their votes.

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