It is our pleasure to welcome Ivy Josiah, Steering Committee member of Global Bersih & Member of the Programme Committee, Bersih 4 Malaysia, to The Hague. We organized a meeting with a group of Malaysians, and Ivy shared her recent experience in the history-making Bersih 4.0 rally back in Kuala Lumpur which took place on 29-30 August 2015. The forum with Ivy was held in a meeting room in The American Book Center in the centre of The Hague from 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
We started with a short video featuring Datuk Ambiga who gave a summary of current developments in Malaysia. Details of the forum with Maria Chin (Bersih Chairman) and Dato Noor Farida (Member of G25) that took place on 3 October 2015 in London were also shared.
Participants then introduced themselves and gave their views about on what is currently going on in Malaysia. This was followed by Ivy’s account of what took place at the Bersih 4.0 rally. Below is a summary of her experience:
1) The event was a success, and hundreds of thousands flocked to Kuala Lumpur on 29-30 Aug 2015. It was so packed that moving from one point to another took a lot more time than usual, e.g. it took 45 minutes to cover a distance which usually takes 10 minutes.
2) The event was attended by all races. Compared to Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, Bersih 4.0 saw a bigger participation by Chinese.
3) Compared with Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, when the police used tear gas, Bersih 4.0 was more organized and coordinated and there was less intervention by the police
4) Thousands also stayed and slept on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on the night of 29 August – something which the organizers did not expect.
5) There was an incredible spirit of camaraderie and sense of unity.
6) Ivy was on one of the ‘mobile stages’ (pick-up trucks) from which Bersih leaders addressed the people during the rally.
7) There were also ‘tactics’ by certain parties to create chaos or confusion among the Bersih 4.0 organizers, e.g. there were bogus text messages about several rally participants killed by the police.
When asked whether there were plans for Bersih 5.0, Ivy mentioned that the current focus is on mobilizing NGOs on the ground to create awareness about rampant corruption and abuse of power by the current government.
Ivy also brought a message from the Global Bersih Committee that we should continue to reach out to more Malaysians and create awareness about what is going on in Malaysia. What we can do is to register ourselves as voters (more details in this link) and to encourage more Malaysians to participate in an overseas voting survey that is accessible online (so that Global Bersih can work towards a reform of the overseas voting process for Malaysians overseas).
Next we introduced the goals and objectives of Bersih NL:
- To promote awareness among Malaysians living in the Netherlands and nearby countries of current social, political and economic developments in Malaysia.
- To encourage discussion and critical thinking about the state of social, political and economic progress in Malaysia.
- To seek ways and means to ensure a fair and clean overseas voting system for overseas Malaysians casting their votes in the General Election.
- To link Malaysians in the Netherlands to the Global Bersih movement.
- To create a platform for Malaysians from all walks of life in the Netherlands and nearby countries, for them to be informed and to share their views about the social, political and economic situation in Malaysia.
- To encourage Malaysians in the Netherlands to exercise their right to vote and to register themselves for the General Election.
- To disseminate reports and recordings of Bersih-related events to a wider audience through written and audio visual media.
We then had our first membership sign-ups from the participants who attended the forum. We hope to raise €350 to start a stichting (foundation), so that Bersih NL is registered as a legal association with its own bank account for collecting donations for all Bersih NL activities.
Our target is to get at least 20 members to sign up within the next two weeks. If you would like to make a difference, join us! All you have to do is to download the membership form, fill in your details and email it back to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to organize more events to gather like-minded Malaysians together to share and exchange views and experiences on important topics close to our hearts and involving our beloved country. So come one, come all and stay tuned!
Salam bersih from Bersih NL