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Bersih wants rallies but not for its HRB rival

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Nikita Nawawi
Written by Nikita Nawawi

KUALA LUMPUR – Sept 18, 2015: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has recommended for Malaysians to start adapting with the culture of rallying as it is becoming a new normal in the country.

The organisation is of the opinion that peaceful rallies should be accepted as an outlet for individuals to express their opinions and demands to the ruling government.

Bersih however believed that non-governmental organisations should turn to its fourth rally which was held last month as a guideline to a peaceful rally.

Its chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said this in reference to the Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu (HRB) rally on Wednesday.

She told The Mole that the HRB’s organisers had destroyed Bersih’s aspiration to unite all Malaysians regardless racial differences.

“HRB had touched on racial sentiment and we do not support that. It is simply unacceptable.

“Bersih has distanced itself from racial politics because we prefer to talk about things that are more important such as Malaysians’ unity but HRB had destroyed that,” she said.

The main aim of Bersih 4.0 rally, which was mostly attended by members of the Chinese community and supported by opposition parties, especially DAP was to demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Maria said that the timing of the HRB rally on Malaysia Day was also unfitting.

She said Malaysians should have taken the opportunity to commemorate the union of Malaya with Sabah and Sarawak instead of participating in a rally that she described as filled with racist remarks.

Bersih 4.0 was held over the two days leading to Merdeka Day on Aug 31.

Maria then slammed the government for approving such a ‘racial-motivated’ rally which evidently had led to violence among the protesters.

She was referring to the fracas at Petaling Street where a number of rally-goers had defied the police order to keep the assembly confined at the designated Padang Merbok and started invading the street.

Three policemen suffered minor injury in the incident and were taken to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for treatment.

Incidents of violence had however also marred previous Bersih rallies, with policemen and protesters getting injured too.

Commenting on the possible economic and political repercussion that Malaysia would have to bear if more parties started taking their dissatisfaction to the streets, Maria advised the government to meet their demands before such a thing happens.

“Rallies would not affect the economy if the leaders take up the demands made and act on it.

“However, our government seems to be sweeping Bersih 4.0’s demands under the rug; probably because we are challenging their status quo,” she added.

HRB rally yesterday was organised by National Silat Association (Pesaka) to counteract the Bersih 4.0 rally with the aim of protecting the sanctity of Rukun Negara.

Police estimated the turnout at almost 30,000 but the organisers claimed that there were more than 250,000 participants at the rally.

The rally which was held at Padang Merbok was joined by over 200 non-governmental organisations including the Organisation of Islamic Welfare and Dakwah of Malaysia (Pekida), Persatuan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa) and the Federation of Malaysian National Writers Associations (Gapena).

Among prominent politicians who attended the rally which ended at 6pm were Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Umno supreme council member Tan Sri Annuar Musa, and Selangor Umno chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar.

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About the author

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi

Nikita Nawawi is an up-and-coming writer who started his involvement in the media industry serving established local English daily, before joining The Mole in October 2014 as journalist.