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Bersih 3.0 under bomb threats

The bomb threats in 109 Free Awar Rally will test the bravery of Bersih supporters.

UMNO goons know using police to crack down Bersih 3.0 is not a viable option, they are resorting to terrorism to stop Ambiga and Bersih supporters from calling Bersih 3.0.

I will be in the Bersih 3.0 is for sure.

In Malaysia, the threat of a ‘clean’ election stirs fear
mark mackinnon
Kuala Lumpur— Globe and Mail Update

When you’re running a semi-authoritarian government – the kind that holds elections but doesn’t really intend to let the population choose anyone but them – nothing is scarier than the words “independent election monitors.”

Malaysians are the latest to debate just who should be allowed to scrutinize their electoral process. An organization known as Bersih (Malay for “Clean”) finds itself in the government’s crosshairs as the country prepares for a hotly contested vote later this year, facing accusations that they are foreign agents bent on bringing down the country’s long-ruling United Malays National Organization.

Since holding a mass rally that saw tens of thousands take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur last year to call for fair elections, Bersih has come under constant attack in Malaysia’s state-controlled media. The group’s leaders have been accused of working for foreigners and of having an “anti-Islamic” agenda, a heavy charge in this majority Muslim state.

“You know what calling me anti-Islamic means. It’s basically an instruction for someone to kill me,” Bersih chairwoman Ambiga Sreenevasan told me in an interview. A well-known lawyer and former head of the Malaysian Bar Council, she said she’s also seen online calls – from a pro-government blogger – for her to be raped as punishment for her political activities.

The 55-year-old is taking the threats seriously enough that she has hired bodyguards. To her, the attacks on Bersih are a sign that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government is panicking.

“I think they are freaked out. They honestly think there’s going to be an Arab Spring here,” she said. (Not too far-fetched a thought, given that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim called for exactly that in his own interview with The Globe and Mail.)

The debate swirling around Bersih is a familiar one. In Russia, where allegations of election fraud brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets last month (and are expected to do so again around the coming presidential elections), the Kremlin has lashed out at an election monitoring organization known as Golos, or “Voice”, which had the audacity to try to catalogue and map the problems with the Dec. 4 parliamentary vote.

In Egypt, the generals who took power after the fall of Hosni Mubarak have blamed similar non-government organizations for helping stir up trouble on the streets, and moved to restrict their activities ahead of the country’s recent elections.

Simply by enumerating incidents of fraud and intimidation – as well as conducting exit polls that in many cases provided a more accurate measure of popular sentiment than the official results – election monitoring NGOs played crucial roles in the “colour revolutions” that toppled semi-authoritarian regimes in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine in the early 2000s.

The controversy surrounding around NGOs like Bersih and Golos (and their cousins around Eastern Europe and the Middle East) boils down to this: though they call themselves independent, many of them receive funding from organizations like the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or the Open Society foundations of billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Are NED and Mr. Soros backing these groups simply because it’s the right thing to do? Or because it serves other geopolitical or financial interests? (I happen to have written a little book on the topic, and found the answers to be very mixed.)

Ms. Ambiga acknowledges that Bersih received some money from Open Society and the National Democratic Institute (the international arm of the U.S. Democratic Party), but says it amounted to just $30,000 that funded a project looking at the delineation of Malaysia’s electoral districts, part of a push to change an election law she says is badly tilted in UMNO’s favour. That money is spent now and there’s no more foreign money coming in, Ms. Ambiga says. Bersih’s main backers are Malaysians who want to see change.

Ms. Ambiga says Bersih’s work could either be seen as anti-regime or pro-democracy, because in today’s Malaysia, “anti-regime” and “pro-democracy” are the same thing.

“It will be the people’s choice, ultimately. If that means regime change, that means that’s what the people want. Regime change is good for the country. A party being in power for 54 years is not a good thing.”

The comment board with Facebook account.
Arshard says:

The former profesor at UTM is the expert in making bombs.

Uggies says:

English grammatical correction for “I will be in the Bersih 3.0 is for sure” whing is a hanging phrase.

a) For sure I will be at the Bersih 3.0 or
b) I will be in the Bersih 3.0 is a sure thing

Aidil Yunus says:

We will soon witness the true meaning of ‘defending puterajaya at all costs’ by Najib. Don’t play play with Ah Gib Gor! Remember Zahid has bought many sophiticated weapons to ‘defend’ our country!