Bersih rally a turning point for democracy

by Kim Quek
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 30, 2011

JUNE 30 — Amidst the frenzy of draconian measures to prevent the July 9 Bersih rally from taking place, many Malaysians have begun to wonder: Has Malaysia descended into a state of lawlessness?

No sooner had the home minister declared that wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirt was illegal, the Inspector-General of Police up the ante by announcing that even “shoes, cars, buses or any medium that promote the Bersih rally are illegal, as this amounts to sedition”, and he said the people involved will be arrested.

To date, more than 100 people have been arrested all over the country in the past four days, mainly for wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirts.

To me, this sounds like someone speaking and acting as if he is the absolute monarch who can order the arrest of anyone at his whim, and whose word is law. For nowhere in the law can you find a provision that allows a minister or a police officer to declare an item such as the Bersih shirt illegal or to arrest someone before a crime is committed or suspected to have been committed. The Bersih rally has not even been held, so how can a crime be committed in connection with the rally?


So, what has driven the minister and the IGP into such extreme conduct of resorting to brazenly unlawful exercise of power?

Is Bersih a terrorist organisation that plots to overthrow the government by violence? Is Bersih calling people to break laws and create chaos? What terrible deeds have Bersih done to cause such phobia in the authorities that they should strike at everything that moves, so to speak, that smells of Bersih?

None of that.

Bersih is a civil society movement participated by 62 non-governmental organisations to campaign for electoral reform. And the July 9 rally is specifically called to address the problem of the authorities’ recalcitrance to institute any form of reform. Despite persistent requests over many years, the Election Commission and the incumbent ruling coalition Barisan Nasional have not moved even one inch towards reforming an electoral system that has been reduced to a complete farce through ever escalating vote-buying, abuse of power and massive rigging.

With such noble intention, how could Bersih be branded as anything other than a respectable body that works towards restoration of democracy and return of political power to the people? It should be obvious by now that without free and fair elections, political power is vested in a few incumbent leaders, not with the people.

And when such a respectable body calls for a rally to highlight its cause to the nation, how can such a rally be taboo, and everything connected with it be decreed illegal?

Up to now, the incumbent hegemon Umno and the police have not come up with an iota of credible evidence that the Bersih rally is anything but a peaceful and honourable gathering, called in accordance with the right endowed by the Constitution to every citizen. Regrettably, the police have so far conducted themselves as a force serving Umno’s parochial political interests, in direct confrontation with the interests of the masses.


The excuses given so far to justify arrest and to label the rally illegal are laughable and carry no credibility — accusations such as a communist plot to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a movement aided by foreign Christian bodies to subvert the country, an event that will jeopardise public order and national security, and cause economic damage.

These tales of impending threats and calamities are so far-fetched that they are not only disbelieved by decent Malaysians, but also reflect the paucity of rationale of the incumbent power to justify their condemnation and clampdown on the movement.

That their excuses to crucify the Bersih rally are rubbish is amply manifested in the admirable political and economic well-being of those democratic countries where such peaceful rallies are part and parcel of their democratic way of life. Look at our regional neighbour Hong Kong. Rallies of a few hundred thousand people to demonstrate against the Hong Kong or Chinese government are routinely staged there, and yet there was not the slightest indication that public order was affected or businesses harmed. On the contrary, Hong Kong continues to enjoy ever increasing prosperity and stability.

So, what is Umno afraid of?

The honest truth and the bottom line is: Umno has no confidence to politically survive a free and fair election.

That is why it has not yielded an inch in the direction of moving Malaysian election to a more level-playing field, and it has no intention to do so in the future.

Umno also realises that it has committed too many wrongs that betray the people’s interest, and more people have come to know of these through the fast-growing alternative media. Combined with the growing influence of the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, the coming rally could be a powerful demonstration of the people’s will to reclaim sovereignty from the long-reigning kleptocracy through electoral reform.

That is something that Umno does not want to see happening.


We can hence expect that Umno will continue to step up pressure against Bersih by manipulating compliant institutions such as the police and judiciary, at the expense of the Constitution and law, to stifle the Bersih move.

But Umno is in a no-win situation. To be faithful to the Constitution, which means that the peaceful rally must be allowed to proceed, Umno dreads to see a mammoth assembly that could be demoralising to its dwindling supporters. On the hand, a brutal repression that breaks all laws may kindle public fury to an explosive state with unpredictable consequences. Even if it succeeds in suppressing the rally, it can only bring temporary relief to Umno, as the ugly scenes of unjustified cruelty and transgression of law and fundamental human rights will be mercilessly bared for all to see, thanks to modern IT technology, reminiscent of the Tahrir Square uprising and the subsequent revolutionary fire that has spread across the entire Arab world. By that time, Umno and BN’s popular support may have so dwindled that even the status quo of skewed election and stooge institutions cannot save it from an electoral defeat.

I am confident that the majority of Malaysians have already reached such a level of political consciousness that the will of the people will prevail to make July 9 rally an important turning point in our struggle to reclaim democracy and sovereignty for the people.

* Kim Quek is the author of “The March to Putrajaya”.

  1. #1 by bruno on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 4:51 am

    What is the Bersih rally all about.It is about having a more transparent and neutral EC.Umno and its NGO’s are arguing that if the elections are dirty than how come the opposition won five states in the last GE.Since Umno claims than they did nothing wrong and they played by the rules then there is nothing to hide.Then let Bersih have their rally on July 9, 2011 and get it over with.

    Why must Umno let Perkasa and Umno youth have counter Bersih rallys on the same day.Isn’t it to provoke trouble.Why is Abrahim Ali threatening confrontation and screaming for blood.Burning of potraits of Bersih chairman Ambiga.And even threatening her life too.They Umno youth let off its gangsters mat rempits to run loose and threatening to burn down PKR’s hq.

    Then the police crackdown of peaceful civil activists.Does the HM or the IGP have to use the full weight of the law against these activists.Half of the 30 activists were women.Of these 15 women half were minors.You don’t need to use the PDRM. Just use tha traffic cops will do.These are not the Umno bred thugs we are talking about.

    Then the HM and the IGP let the main culprits,their Umno backed gangsters running wild unhindered.There is only suppossed to be one set of laws in this country.Not two sets.Don’t tell the people the HM and the IGP are donkeys with no brains.Even in the game of perception you two dunggus will be graded zero over hundred.

  2. #2 by bruno on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 5:12 am

    Umnoputras,especially Najib and Hishamuddin.Sit down and relax,smoke a cigar and ponder.All the problems you are having now.Whose fault is it.Is it Bersih or PR’s fault.Or are these the fault of your own people from Umno.Are all these problems caused by factions oppossed to you cousins.Think and go figure it out.You guys are barking at the wrong people.It is not the communists.Communism in Malaysia went into extinction in the eighties.Your enemies are your own people in Umno.Have you guys figure it out,yet.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 7:09 am

    Najib passing the buck to the police and bringing the spectare of Emergency rule actually brings home the main reason for all the drama leading to July 9 – it has boil down to one thing – Najib’s hold on power – not UMNO/BN. Even if July 9 get messy, it will happen only that one day. Emergency rule is for an entire volatile situation that could get out of control with no certain end. All indication is that whatever happens will be that one day, situation well-under control.

    What could happen is that Najib will fall from power as UMNO/BN decides they need a more hard-line leader. Nothing more than that. The only justification then is really keeping Najib in power. Nothing more..

    Bersih has come down to that – Najib’s job..

  4. #4 by Comrade on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 8:11 am

    Umno/BN must face up to reality
    If elections were carried out properly
    And the gov’t is good and trustworthy
    No need then for the Bersih rally

    Though Umno will not come into the light
    For fear their evil deeds will be exposed
    Through IT their wrongdoings are known alright
    Come GE13, they must be deposed

  5. #5 by k1980 on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 8:15 am

    KUALA LUMPUR (June 30, 2011): Starting tomorrow, the Election Commission (EC) will implement the one address system where voters registered at one address will be identified.

    EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the system was created to prevent strangers from using other people’s address to vote or for some other reason.

    “The family head only need to enter the identity card number and the system will list those registered using the same address.

    “I will see that my wife, son, brother or others who share my home address,” he said at a forum entitled “Tuntutan Bersih-Apa Penjelasan SPR” organised by Mind Development Institute (INMIND) here today.

    Wan Ahmad said the system will display the actual number of people who registered as voters using the same address.

    “The address owner can lodge a complaint with EC for further action if there are strangers using the same address,” he added. — Bernama

  6. #6 by voice2009 on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 8:32 am

    Only the corrupted politicians are afraid of CLEAN, FREE, TRANSPARENT of election

    Are you one of them?

    Do you want your children to be govern by corrupted politicians in laws as CRIMINALS?

    The middle-east even till death they defence and uphold JUSTICE against the corrupted politicians

    What about you MALAYSIAN?

    Now, the whole world watching you, your BRAVELY to uphold your defence of JUSTICE against the INJUSTICE, CORRUPTION

    The whole word watching it right now

  7. #7 by Thinking Two on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 8:35 am

    BN fears of UNITY.
    The more troubles to The RAKYAT the more happy the BN is.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN is going enjoy the money inflow freely.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN gets somemore Koyo’s Mansion.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN gets somemore Zakary’s Palace.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN gets somemore commission for doing nothing at all.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN gets somemore
    oversea trips at the RAYKAT’s expense.
    If there is FAIRNESS, how BN gets someone’s wife to run the country.

  8. #8 by dagen on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 8:47 am

    YELLOW SUBMARINE, the beatles

    /// In the town where I was born,
    Lived a man who sailed to sea,
    And he told us of his life,
    In the land of submarines,

    So we sailed on to the sun,
    Till we found the sea green,
    And we lived beneath the waves,
    In our yellow submarine,

    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

    And our friends are all aboard,
    Many more of them live next door,
    And the band begins to play.

    (Trumpets play)

    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

    (Full speed ahead, Mr. Barkley, full speed ahead!
    Full speed over here, sir!
    All together! All together!
    Aye, aye, sir, fire!
    Captain! Captain!)

    As we live a life of ease(life of ease)
    Every one of us(every one of us) has all we need,(has all we need)
    Sky of blue,(sky of blue) and sea green,(sea of green)
    In our yellow(In our yellow) submarine.(submarine) ( Haha! )

    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine.


    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
    We all live in yellow submarine,
    yellow submarine, yellow submarine. ///

    Yo. Lets torpedo the MV UMNO.
    Yellow submarine. Yellow submarine.

  9. #9 by wanderer on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:21 am

    If we have an insane govt and administered by
    nut heads, democracy is dead but..still not buried. Malaysians, we need to unearth and put decent polticians back to the helm…and remove these corrupted, evil and incompetent deranged low beings out of our political arena. Express through Bersih 2.0 Time has come for action. Fear not these evil beings, these are cowards hiding behind the equally low lives in blue.

  10. #10 by negarawan on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:24 am

    UMNO/BN and its instruments of corrupted power (PDRM, EC, Judiciary) are now even more hated by the rakyat. The PDRM can’t even solve the real problems like crime in the streets but are wasting the rakyat’s money by taking politically-motivated orders from UMNO. Arresting the rakyat just because of wearing yellow attire is a despicable betrayal of the rakyat’s trust in the police force! The police should be working to protect the rakyat, not UMNO politicians and their greedy agendas!

    Let me relate an incident that clearly shows that our police force has become useless. Last Monday, there was a theft in my house in the wee hours of the morning. I went to the police station to make a report. The police officer taking my report then asked me if I hired a security company to take care of my house. In the back of my mind, I was surprised by the mentality of the police officer and the implication that the police force depends on other people to do their very own job! Then the officer made a call to another officer to take my statement. I was told that the investigating officer will go my my house at 5:30pm in the evening to take my statement. I went home early from work that evening anticipating the police officer. I waited until 7:00pm and there was no sign of him. Then I received a call from a Sargeant A asking for directions to my house. Then he says he will take his dinner first and visit my house at 10:30pm. At 10:30pm he calls up and says that he cannot find the house, even after I have given him clear instructions, and said that he will see me in the evening the next day, and he hung up the phone rather rudely. Days after the report was made, there is still no sign of the investigating officer. This clearly shows the lackadaisical attitude and lack of responsibility and professionalism in the police force. While I do not expect the recovery of my stolen item, I made the police report so that the police will be alert on criminal activities in my residential area and possibly patrol the area more often. To date, I have not seen any patrolling by the police. The confidence level in the effectiveness of the police force is really low. If we take a look at the many crime taking place all over the country, e.g. the acid splasher in the Klang Valley who is still scott free after many months, one cannot help but question the competency and diligence of the police. Despite the massive recuitment drive and multiple salary increases for the police force, it seems that the level of performance and professionalism is quite low. This reflects badly on the leadership of the PDRM and the minister of home affairs, Hishamuddin.

    If the police force is short-handed, what happened to their recruitment drive? The police force has received salary adjustments not once but a few times over the last few years. Why is the police less motivated now? Clearly the police force is mismanaged.

  11. #11 by Thor on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:31 am

    Who are the ones who really cares about what’s gonna happen to our country?
    In the present situation, even the blind knew what is going on.
    Why are the monarch and rulers keeping mum about all these?
    Can’t they judge or differentiate what is going on in this country or are they just pretending not to know?
    UmnoBN fellas and cronies can migrate to other countries once they’ve suck this country dry and they’ll be enjoying better than kings over there so are the monarchy willing to dump this country and follow suit?
    At the rate and figures of our country’s wealth that is declining, why are they not alarmed or bothered?
    This is not about politics but about our country’s future and rakyat’s suffering.
    Najib is playing a dangerous game by using the country’s money to buy and trade for power and day by day, he’s creating more and more greedy human.
    Not only multiplying but these greedy corrupted buggers will be coming back asking more and more for doing small favours in return.
    The way that he give and spent, how fast can our country earn back the money?
    He’s just digging more “holes” not only in our pocket but also for our country as well.
    Sooner or later, we’ll be the next greece!
    Better to’ve King and sultans to rule back country instead!
    Too many crooks and greedy politicians these days, all highly trained by one evil mamak!!!
    “May day” and “code red” in our country and Bersih 2.0 is our last choice.
    Without “Bersih 2.0”, next GE is only a bluff!!!

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:42 am

    O no, ppl were arrested not only 4 wearing d yellow Bersih T-shirts but also YELLOW shirts
    Gone crazy/mad lah

  13. #13 by Bunch of Suckers on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:43 am

    What you guys brag about?

    Simply, sucking pigs want dirty instead cleanliness…

    Got that? Pigs only survive with dirt and craps! You give them cleanliness; they bounce back with arrests for preserving their survivals and powers…

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:46 am

    Loyalty keep mum cos they r shivering, no YELLOW thingy 2 wear lor

  15. #15 by Bunch of Suckers on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 9:50 am

    With cleanliness; nothing for those sucking pigs to suck… They suck $$$ with dirt and craps!

  16. #16 by k1980 on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 1:25 pm

    Hey, jib and moo are wearing yellow undies. Why aren’t they arrested?

  17. #17 by monsterball on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 2:01 pm

    The country has always been lawlessness.
    It’s always UMNO B’s laws.
    It is a dictatorship government.
    Do you support little dictators?
    Fight for FREEDOM without violence to shame them.
    They are nobody…but elected servants to serve the people.
    They do not serve.
    They want to own the country…which means own all Malaysians.
    Migrating to me is a cowardly and selfish act.
    Stand tall and vote these rouges out.
    If no 13th GE…stay put and keep fighting with no fear with no violence.
    Mahatma Gandhi did that to free Indians…and India.

  18. #18 by Rapid Thinker on Friday, 1 July 2011 - 3:47 pm

    u guys r talking about the election like u guys r the one who count the vote… if really the election is unfair, selangor would never fall to the pakatan hand… all this bersih thing is just an excuse.. well, if this bersih really proceed, i guess i’ll be happy to be malaysian because we defintely going into tv all over the world.. n be exactly like thailand.. if today peace in malaysia is not enough, well, keep on protesting. i bet we’ll have a better goverment who cant even make a shadow cabinet, which definitely going to give us a lot of experinced and intelligent minister… i’m so glad.

  19. #19 by Mike Tee on Saturday, 2 July 2011 - 8:24 am

    After watched a few of recorded Malaysia parliement clips, you could see the arrogant UMNO MPs shouting abuses to the opposition MPs, even call the oppositions MPs “pigs”,” get out of the country”. No wonder their bunch of civil and public servants acted like their master too, hounding the innorcent citizens.
    It is now even more urgent for the BERSIH to go ahead, to ensure that not such corrupt, greedy and evil UMNO thieves and robbers get the oppurtunities to exploit and create racial tension in the country anymore.
    It is now to call time, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!!!

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