By K Pragalath
KUALA LUMPUR: Election watch dog Bersih 2.0 has joined this year’s 55th Merdeka celebrations with a Merdeka countdown gathering themed, “Bersih’s Promise”.
“We have heard ‘many promises’ for the celebrations, but we do know that Malaysians want free and fair elections,” National Laureate A Samad Said told a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here today on behalf of 26 civil society organisations.
The term “many promises” refers to Barisan Nasional’s Merdeka theme, “Promises Fulfilled”.
“To celebrate our theme, Bersih’s Promise, we invite all Malaysians to gather at the Dataran Merdeka fountain on Aug 30 at 10pm in yellow,” said Samad.
He added that the event was being held to tell the public Bersih’s eight demands for electoral reform.
“Bersih is now in an unclear position as it is disturbed by the government. We need to grow and inform the public,” said Samad.
Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) chief Badrulamin Shaharin, otherwise known as Chegu Bard, said the celebration is vital because it was time to counter the government’s “Promises Fulfilled” theme.
“They claim promises fulfilled but they never fulfilled promises for free and fair elections,” said Chegu Bard.
He also dismissed the necessity to apply for a permit for a gathering.
‘It’s not a demonstration’
“It is just a celebration with fellow Malaysians, not a demonstrations.” said Maria in hwe capacity as Empower Malaysia executive director.
She was also asked to comment on Election Commission’s statement last month that the eight demands have been met.
Among Bersih’s eight demands are electoral roll clean-up, equal media access, air time for all political parties and usage of indelible ink.
“We don’t know whether advanced voters who would be marked and who would vote three days ahead would be able to vote again.
“We need air time to allow candidates to say what they can do for the nation, not read out manifestos.”
Meanwhile, social activist Hishammuddin Rais described the gathering as an opportunity for the people to reclaim the right to celebrate Merdeka.
“We are reclaiming the people’s right to celebrate with the theme [Bersih’s Promise] and yellow colour.”
A total of 26 organisations has endorsed this countdown event.
Among them are SAMM and National Ex- Army Veterans Welfare Network (Kerabat). – FMT