Bersih in Malaysia

Bersih is a movement in Malaysia which in recent years sought reforms in election laws and processes there.

In recent months Najib Razak the Prime Minister of Malaysia has been embroiled in alleged corruption scandal involving huge sums of money. Some USD700 million was said to have been deposited into his personal bank account, which weeks later he said were political donations. This was after he shut down a local financial newspaper, sacked the Attorney General who was a member of a task force set up to investigate the allegations, and messed with a Parliamentary Audit Committee by promoting some of its members to his cabinet, thus disqualifying them from continuing on as members of the Committee. He also sacked, transferred or suspended persons in the anti corruption body.

As these actions fomented, they brought public sentiments to a boil – thus “Bersih 4.0” has gathered momentum. In spite of turmoils within the Islamic party (PAS) which had previously been a key component of past Bersih events, the current Bersih appears to have lost little interest or momentum in carrying out public rallies to protests against the Najib Razak administration. Idiotic mind numbing statements by some of his sychophantic cabinet members have poured fuel onto the fire and judging by the volume and tones of private family group chats of mine, ordinarily docile Malaysians are fed up and are ready to rumble. Churches will open its doors to protesters in case authorities play rough, and scores of private doctors have volunteered to provide medical services. Local food vendors have offered free pre-rally lunches. In short ordinary previously uninterested Malaysians are itching for a fight.

Tress and I, along with some friends and family here in a much quieter setting that is Melbourne, will attend a Down Under version of the event at Federation Square. If I weren’t heading to Melbourne this weekend, I would have headed to the Canberra chapter too, such is the momentum of disgust now building up. Actually I’m quite excited. After years and years of feeling angry and frustrated at how Malaysians are reticent to speak up against wrong doings, I think the country has turned the corner and has had enough. I left Malaysia in 2004 – finally in 2015, I see the frustration, anger and disgust which drove me out, now fomenting among those I care about.

Hadi Awang at the Bersih rally
Hadi Awang at the Bersih rally (Photo credit: Wikipedia)