(Out of the many images of BERSIH 3.0 that I have seen, this has to be one of the most moving one – a Malaysian lying down in front of the police water cannon truck to stop them. It reminded me of the lone protestor who stood in front of the tanks during the Tiananmen Square. Image source: Lim SK @ Flickr)
The High Court today quashed the declaration of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on July 1 last year declaring Bersih 2.0 an unlawful society. In her 30-page judgement, Rohana ruled that the decision to declare Bersih 2.0 unlawful was made without taking into account some relevant facts or by taking into account some irrelevant facts.
We had BERSIH 1.0 in 2007 which was unprecedented, 2.0 in 2011 was better and forced the Government to appoint PSC to look into the electoral reforms and last week, we had 3.0 which saw the police getting some beating from some rowdy protestors and you can be rest assured that if the electoral reforms are not implemented in time or with the right and sincere thrust, we will have BERSIH 4.0 and more.
By the way, if it is going to be a violent protest, then we should not do the gathering in the first place.
Whilst we all agree that there seems to be some form of positive steps taken by the Government to address the electoral shortcomings and come up with a list of reforms, it means nothing if these reforms are not implemented in time before the next general elections especially when BN is just too eager to wrestle back the state of Selangor and Penang. A promise to do something is not the same as something get done.
Look at this way – election reforms passed by the Parliament is not something that the current Government is too eager to implement and if it is not for BERSIH 1.0 and 2.0, we would not even come close to any kind of electoral reforms. So, when the Government announces PSC to look into the electoral reforms last year, we were not sure whether it was to silence the calls for electoral reforms (the usual wayang kulit) or if they were indeed sincere to make the positive change (but it is a long shot indeed).
Thus BERSIH 3.0 was mooted because it was evident that many of the recommendations cannot be implemented soon. If the general election is indeed called in June, there is no way for the Election Commission to implement all of the PSC’s recommendations in time. And if Election Commission indeed proceeds to implement the reforms sometime in the future, it may be too late.
So, it is possible that we have not seen the end of BERSIH rallies but hopefully, if they have the next one, the organizers should look for a better solution on crowd control (whatever happens, the last thing we need is for the ordinary people to be fighting the police on the streets) and ensuring that political parties do not hijack the rally.
Yes, we need to keep up the pressure on the Government and on the Election Commission, not much on coming up with the list for electoral reforms (BERSIH have done the same way before PSC was appointed) but it should be more on the implementation of whatever reforms that has been proposed.
And whilst we do that it should not at the expense of breaching the convention of a peaceful rally and violence against the police and making the rally ending up the oppositions’ rally. If we do that, you can expect that the next BERSIH rally will be more effective than the one we had last week and with greater participation as well.
I will catch up with you next week…