Past rallies focused more on urban issues, admits Maria

maria-chin-bersihPETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0’s steering committee has realised that its previous rallies focused more on issues affecting urban folks generally.

This may explain why most participants of last year’s Bersih rally comprised Malaysian Chinese, with only a small group from the rural areas showing up.

Hence, Bersih will embark on a nationwide tour to ensure the fifth instalment of its rally represents the whole make-up of multiracial Malaysia.

The electoral watchdog’s chairman, Maria Chin Abdullah, said the Bersih convoy will begin on Oct 1 and will focus on educating the public, especially those from the rural areas, on the purpose of the Bersih 5 rally.

“We have come to the conclusion that it’s very important for us to get our message across to every Malaysian who should be able to understand why Bersih made this kind of demands,” she told a press conference here today.

When asked if the committee would call off the rally if its seven-week tour received a poor turnout, Chin said: “If we are able to reach out to the 246 towns and Malaysians we have never met before, that in itself is already a big achievement.

“The Bersih 5 rally is just another part of it.”

She hoped with the nationwide tour, more rural folks will take part in the Nov 19 yellow rally which will demand for institutional reforms and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, among others.

The tour, themed “Combine our energy — New Malaysia”, will see “Bersih torches” passed throughout the 246 stops planned, said Chin.

She also welcomed participation from any political leaders, individuals and NGOs who will be allowed to use the platform to push their own agendas.

“We are very focused in our demand for institutional reforms and if people come on board and support our agenda, that is fine with us.

“They may have other things on their agenda but as long as they do not sabotage us, or in any way undermine the demands of Bersih, they are welcome to join us.”

Present today was Bersih 2.0 Vice-Chairperson for Central Peninsula Jay Jay Denis, activist Hishammuddin Rais, Human Rights Society Chairperson Ambiga Sreenivasan, and TangkapMO1 Spokesperson Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, among others.

Denis, speaking on another matter, said the outcome of the next three general elections may be determined in the next 30 days.

This is as the constituency redelineation for the peninsula and Sabah will commence tomorrow, as was announced by the Election Commission (EC).

“Bersih 2.0 warns Malaysians that the EC’s recommendations, once presented to Parliament, will be voted upon and passed with a simple majority.”

He then called on the public to take part in the delineation exercise by assessing the effect of the EC’s recommendations on their individual constituencies.

They can do so by filing objections with the signature of a minimum 100 affected voters, latest by Oct 14. If necessary, they can file legal suits against the EC.