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3,000 show up for pre-Bersih 3.0 rally

 | April 18, 2012

The crowd responded enthusiastically to the speakers at the gathering in Kampung Baru.

KUALA LUMPUR: About 3,000 people turned up at a pre-Bersih rally last night in a solid show of support for free and fair elections.

The rally in Kampung Baru, themed “Ceramah Countdown 10 hari menjelang Bersih 3.0” (Countdown to Bersih 3.0), featured as many as 20 activists and politicians taking to the stage and riling up the crowd for about two and half hours.

Among those present were former Bersih co-chairperson, A Samad Said, steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah, Himpunan Hijau’s Clement Chin, student activist Adam Adli, International Islamic Univeristy (UIA) professor Abdul Aziz Bari, PKR vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tian Chua, PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvam, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and former Umno member Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir.

Tamrin Ghafar, an Umno member and son of former deputy prime minister Ghafar Baba, who was one of the speakers, said that although he was still a member of the ruling party, he was uneasy with a “power-hungry” regime out to manipulate the election to remain in power.

“I’m still in Umno but I’m here with you guys today because I’m not willing to see the manner in which the elections and the electoral process are being manipulated.

“Tun Abdul Razak (our second prime minister and Najib’s father) was never power-hungry but today our country is being sold to outsiders so easily just so the ruling regime remains in power,” he said, adding that he was very uneasy at the rapid rate in which foreigners are given Malaysian citizenship.

“You are the heroes and you must make sure that the rights which have been stripped away from us are returned to us. I know even some Umno members are with us to demand for free and fair elections,” he said as the crowd cheered.

Tamrin said that even Gua Musang MP and Umno member, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, was in support of the rally.

‘Umno has changed’

Former minister and deputy president of Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said that he was happy that the first two Bersih rallies had taken place although he was still with the ruling regime then.

“I was still with the government but I silently supported Bersih. Umno has changed. Last time the party truly belonged to its members… now it seems as though the party leaders are behaving as though it is their father’s property – stealing here and there from the people.

“The country belongs to the rakyat. The people have all the right to elect their government in a free and fair manner, this they have forgotten. They are stealing the elections using the media and other government agencies. Are we going to allow them to steal the elections?” asked Kadir, who was with Umno for 56 years.

Other speakers spoke about the urgency to send a clear message to the government before the upcoming polls. Bersih steering committee member, Hishamuddin Rais, said that Selangor may fall into the hands of the government through manipulation of the polls.

“From sentiment on the ground it is clear that Pakatan Rakyat can retain its power, but I am telling you tonight that Selangor will lose because of unfair election. The time to send memorandums is over, the time talk is over, it is time to take to the streets,” he said to jubilant cheers from the crowd.

Also present was Auntie Bersih, Annie Ooi Siew Lan, who urged the crowd to gather to give the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) a tough time.

“Let’s give Najib a headache, Ya?” she said as the crowd shouted back in agreement.

Azhar Mohd Kassim, the nephew of Baharuddin Ahmad, who died while taking part in last year’s July 9 rally, was also present.

“My uncle took part in the rally because he wanted justice. Let’s uphold justice, that was his wish,” he said.

The talk ended without incident and there was minimal presence of security personnel.


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