Cleaner, fairer, better? | Selangor Times
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Issue 118

 

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Cleaner, fairer, better?
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 22 Jul 2011

PRACTICALLY everyone who is reading this already knows about the July 9 rally organised by the Bersih 2.0 coalition. I believe that many of us were there on the streets on that historic day.

I believe many of us chose to step out of our houses, abandon our cars, and walk the streets of Kuala Lumpur to stand up for what we collectively believe in. I believe we wanted to send a signal to those in the halls of power that we want our elections to be cleaner and fairer, that we had had enough, and that History is on the side of the rakyat.  

Yet when you really think about all the events leading up to that historic day, it seems like so much could have gone awry.

A few days before the rally, I’d had a quick conversation with a seasoned politician from a BN component party. He conceded that this coalition of non-governmental organisations had truly out-maneuvered the government of the day, though not entirely of its own doing.

“Barisan has truly outdone itself in how it overreacted to Bersih 2.0, and the rakyat is seeing this government for what it is – nothing more than a bully!”

(Even till this day, some two weeks later, we see acts of repressive bullying by the federal government continuing – the six PSM members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar, are still being detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance; those found wearing or in possession of Bersih 2.0 t-shirts could have those “illegal” merchandise confiscated; even an article in the July 16 edition of The Economist was censored for its take on the rally!)

Even so, the politician I spoke to felt that some untoward incidences may have taken place on the day of the demonstrations, and that “there may be sacrifices”. A shiver crawled up and down my spine at that very thought, as various scenarios ran through my mind – could this be a bloody end? Or will that weekend be a new beginning for our nation?

Thankfully, despite the 1,667 arrests on that day itself (and the hundreds in the days preceding it), no deadly acts of violence occurred, and in this instance the veteran party man was thankfully wrong.  

Nonetheless, the demonstration marked both ends and beginnings. To an extent, it represented the end of certain myths – that street protests are violent; the constant screeching calls of “berdemo bukan budaya kita”; that May 13 constantly hung like the sword of Damocles.

This historic day also marked the beginning of new cultures or attitudes – of taking multiethnic Malaysia, even during rallies, as a given; of sobriety and a tempered tone in the Bersih 2.0 committee’s responses to hyperventilating state apparatuses; of the idea that Malaysian civil society has come away strengthened and rejuvenated.

But I think that Bersih 2.0 in general and the rally in particular needs to be analyzed more. For one, not all who support Bersih 2.0 are necessarily supporters of the federal opposition. As should be clear by now, the 62 NGOs are clamouring for eight demands that ultimately benefit the people in terms of strengthening the democratic process in Malaysia, and we should not read this immediately as a blanket support of policies or positions held by certain parties.

We have come away from July 9 more sober, more thoughtful, and I do believe more committed to making the kind of changes that will be necessary to get this country back on track – socially, politically, economically.

In other words, Bersih 2.0 marks the maturing of the Malaysian electorate, although the process is obviously far from being complete.
And so, we can only ask, what happens next?

 

 Selangor Times

 

 

Also by Fahmi Fadzil:

Awaiting local, federal elections

THE Malaysian political scene feels like it fits right in with the work of absurdist playwright Beckett’s play entitled ‘Waiting for Godot’, where two characters – Vladimir and Estragon – wait patiently for the arrival of Godot, who never arrives.

New beginnings

Farewell 2012, Hello 13GE

WHAT a year it has been! Who would’ve thought that much of these past 11 months would have sped by with such ferocity?

Reconsidering elected representatives

What is the role of a member of Parliament? A state assemblyperson (ADUN)? A local councillor? 

The day after...

In my last article, I wrote about the need to imagine the hours, days, weeks, and months following the 13th General Election (a most enigmatic event, whose precise date is and will forever be a mystery... until it is called!). 

Change must come but not with violence

A few days ago, I read an article by Liew Chin Tong, the MP for Bukit Bendera, entitled “The Last Mile” (The Rocket, July 2, 2012).

Let’s keep thuggery out

I have been working for Nurul Izzah and Parti Keadilan Rakyat since October 2010.

Cleaner, freer, fairer, better

It’s been a good nine months since the epic Bersih 2.0 rally of July 2011. I still remember the days that came before that mammoth gathering - the tension, the stress, the uncertainties, and most of all: the unyielding desire of the rakyat for free and fair elections - and realize that, given the special circumstance that we are in today what with polls being weeks or months away, those thunderous days may not be repeated verbatim.

Tale of two gatherings

This past week saw several different yet, from my point of view, important gatherings of people standing up for what they believe in. I want to write a little bit about two gatherings in particular, and highlight what we may (hopefully) learn from each.

Of sacred cows and secret condos

It’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter.

What a year!

“Buka tutup buka tutup mata, dah habis satu tahun.”
 

TTDI residents ready for futsal 'match'

A few Fridays ago, I received an email from my neighbourhood security-watch committee about a new project that had suddenly mushroomed in our little corner of Taman Tun Dr Ismail: a futsal court.

Neighbourhoods under siege

OF late I’ve been thinking a lot about neighbourhoods – all these places where we grew up, started our own families, and basically watched the nation go by.

Maafkan kami

I’m not sure if you’ve been following the news, but earlier in June I was kind of in the news as I had to apologise for some things that I had tweeted in January.

Times of change

Of late, we’ve been inundated with talk about withdrawal of subsidies and subsequently the change in the price of sugar, RON95, gas, electricity, etc – some of which has happened, and some of which (for whatever economic or political reason) has not.

Sarawak, show us the way

The recent Sarawak state elections were such a learning experience for many Malaysians. Irrespective of whether we were active participants in the political battles on the ground, or just curious observers reading the news on Twitter, it is clear that Sarawak – and the rest of the country – can never be the same again.

The Malaysian resistance

These are “artistic impressions” of thoughts circumambulating the increasingly controversial Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
project. I chose to say “increasingly controversial” because we all know we need this infrastructure and thus any opposition to it appears to reject a very public need.

 

 

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