Valid question:

Is Bersih still relevant post GE13?


[COLOR=#707070 !important]Narinder Singh
| December 17, 2013[/COLOR]
Will Bersih's new leadership be successful in making reforms in the Malaysian electoral process before GE14?
COMMENT
Has Bersih 2.0 gone into hibernation with S Ambiga and A Samad Said taking leave from the front lines of their struggle? This question seem to be lingering in the minds of the general public ever since their last public stunt in mooting the People’s Tribunal last September.


There was much hype in bringing forward witnesses to this tribunal but the outcome has fizzled out as quick as the tribunal was mooted, convened and executed.


The public is anxiously waiting for their independent findings and recommendations but to-date it has not been forthcoming. It will be three months soon; as they promised it should be out by this weekend. Let us see if there will be any new revelations that can startle the public per se.


Bersih 2.0 has been extremely vocal in their voice and actions calling for a major overhaul pertaining to the electoral process in Malaysia. They have cried foul on the various irregularities; alleging that the ruling government led by Umno has played dirty to the run up of elections in the nation. They have painted the Election Commission as being bias, condoning corruption and gerrymandering to ensure that only Barisan Nasional component parties have the edge in winning an election.


As known, Bersih 2.0 has organised mass rallies to the run up of the last election in the hopes that their concerns and recommendations will be heeded by the Election Commission; calling for a clean, fair and just process.


In calling for a thorough reform Bersih 2.0 has summarised their broad demands into eight vital categories which includes stopping corruption, strengthening public institutions, a clean electoral role, minimum 21 days campaigning period, use of indelible ink, free and fair access to media , reforming the postal votes and above all stop dirty politics.


It is a tough call indeed especially so when they have claimed not to be in association or in affiliation with any political party for the matter. The very fact that Bersih’s initial steering committee comprised members from political parties as well, distancing themselves as not being another political platform is a daunting task. They have long been seen, perceived and accepted as having a strong leaning and biasness towards the opposition alliance made up of the DAP, PKR and PAS.


Can Bersih be neutral?


Accepted that they have strong following and endorsement from various NGOs, running close to a hundred, but we cannot assume that they have been all that innocent and ‘clean’ in championing for a reformed electoral process. The premise of their initiation itself speaks volumes if not in hypocrisy.


An entity does not become neutral in all essence just on mere declaration made in public. Perception is utmost important and provides how an organisation pulses on its mission and vision. Almost all their activities have been overshadowed by the opposition agenda, and that is to take over Putrajaya at all cost.


If indeed Bersih 2.0 wants to live up to its true spirit, it should not entertain any political party from both divides on their platform and even NGO’s that are suspiciously affiliated with them.


It should stay clear of any deviations and solely focus on empowering citizens to be real masters of their own destiny.


Bersih 2.0 must denounce all acts that are not in harmony with the 8 point demand. In reality they are still a far cry from their ideals.


Having said that, will their new leadership in Maria Chin Abdullah be able to steer them into clearer paths of not being used as a forefront or ‘masking’ by the opposition political parties?


By large, Maria Chin has been a women’s activist; thus has she the might and capacity to harness support from the masses and further the course of Bersih 2.0 into a more formidable force?


History is witness to the fact that electoral reforms need persistence, perseverance and definitely financial backing. With Bersih’s pillar personalities like Ambiga and Samad Said making way, the battle gets tougher and we can be pretty sure that the powers in Putrajaya will not provide a cushioned red carpet to Maria Chin.


The year 2014 is around the corner and soon it will be a year gone since the last general election. What is in store lined up by Maria Chin and her new comrades in pursuing their goal?


A change of guards in Bersih 2.0 will mean nothing in the eye of the public if they remain dormant and stagnated only on their current modus operandi. Mass rallies will not work anymore as the public is tired and financially tight with the current escalating cost of living.