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My New Yellow T-Shirt for Every Saturday

‘Wear something yellow every Saturday’

Stephanie Sta Maria | July 12, 2011

Bersih thanks the people for their support on July 9 and urges them to continue keeping the momentum alive.

KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 2.0 has urged the people to continue their support for electoral reforms by wearing a yellow item every Saturday.

Thousands of ordinary citizens poured onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur last Satuday to express their dissatisfaction with the current electoral system and push for reforms.

“We want to thank the rakyat for their courage, and for their peaceful and overwhelming support for free and fair elections,” Bersih 2.0 chairperson, S Ambiga, told a press conference today. “And we express profound regret for the tragic and needless death of Baharuddin Ahmad who will remain in our hearts as the ultimate hero.”

Baharuddin, the late husband of the Setiawangsa PKR Wanita chief, died after collapsing during the rally while fleeing the bombardment of tear gas and water cannons.

“I ask the rakyat to show continuing support by wearing something yellow every Saturday,” she said. “I also call on them to do their bit by ensuring that their family and friends are registered voters. If one person gets five others to register this will definitely bump up voter numbers.”

Ambiga added that the coalition was still attempting to submit its memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin after being turned away from the palace last Saturday.

“We don’t know when this will happen,” she said. “But we will continue trying to get our memorandam across.”

Ambiga also laid to rest speculation of any future rally and firmly said that there were no immediate plans for one.

“You don’t hold rallies at the drop of a hat,” she said. “Such events are done for very good reasons. But we should carry on doing whatever we can to support the cause. I think we can work it through if the government stops demonising Bersih 2.0 and start listening to the people.”

“The people do want change. Bersih 2.0′s original agenda was for electoral reforms but it has since become much more than that. It is now also about democracy, fighting abuse of power and overcoming intimidation.”

Eight demands first

Ambiga pointed out that the original ban from the home ministry was in fact not for Bersih 2.0 but for Bersih. The coalition will be filing a petition in court to challenge the ministry’s orders. The court date has yet to be set but she said that they would be fully pursuing this matter.

She also said that the best way to move forward would be to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) consisting of experts who are “acceptable to the public”.

“The RCI’s task would be to look into the overhauling of the current electoral system,” she said. “But it should initially look at Bersih 2.0′s eight demands prior to the 13th general election. Otherwise, there is no point setting up a RCI after that.”

Bersih steering committee member, Andrew Khoo, said that a RCI was needed to organise talks nationwide and listen to the people’s experiences with the electoral system.

The coalition also condemned reports of police brutality during the rally and called on the Human Rights Commission off Malaysia (Suhakam) to conduct an investigation into the matter.

Bersih steering committee member, Haris Ibrahim, branded the incidents captured on video and camera as the “worst brutalities that the rakyat received from what was meant to be peace-keeping forces”.

“I have also heard of instances where the police exercised restraints and I thank them for that,” he acknowledged. “But I want to tell the security forces that free and fair elections are also for them and their children. They are the rakyat too.”

Another steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, slammed the police for continuing to harass those who have already filed police reports of brutality.

“This morning I received a call from a man who had filed a report on Sunday over the shooting of water cannons and tear gas into Tung Shin Hospital,” she said. “The police called him today demanding that he tone down his statement. This has to stop.”

Both Ambiga and Maria urged eye-witnesses to lodge police reports and send a copy to Bersih for documentation and further action.

Ambiga also confirmed a statement by former prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, today that he had urged her to heed the King’s advice where the rally was concerned. However, she clarified that Abdullah had not asked her himself to call off the rally.

When pressed for further details of the meeting, she apologetically said, “It’s confidential and I don’t want to breach that privacy.”

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Ayob says:

Thanks for your reminder.

I will wear yellow every Saturday!