Malaysia

Ambiga mulls writing her own Bersih book

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 – Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today she is considering writing a book on her experiences of the Bersih rally, a Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.

“If I were to write it, it would have many chapters, it wouldn’t be just one story,” the lawyer said at the launch of the collection of Bersih stories here at the Central Market.

Ambiga (picture) went on saying the first chapter will be entitled pre-Bersih 2.0 where she would summarise the first Bersih rally in 2007 as well as the birth of Bersih 2.0 and how it had became a civil society movement.

“I would also say how we tried the avenue of discourse, discussion, several memorandum being handed in, we’ve tried all that and I remember how difficult it was to get people, the rakyat interested in the issue of electoral reform, it is a boring subject, there is no doubt about that,” she said, adding that work preparing for Bersih 2.0 took more than a year.

In the second chapter, Ambiga said she would talk about the need for Bersih 2.0.

“I would then talk about the Sarawak elections, one of the dirtiest elections we have ever had and I’ll also talk about how EC continued to live in denial as they still do by the way in relation to our demands.

“I think it became absolutely clear to us that a rally was necessary if we were to ensure that what happened in Sarawak does not happen in the 13th general elections,” she said.

The next chapter, the former Bar Council president said would be about the Bersih rallies held in 32 other cities on July 9 and that it was not part of the original Bersih 2.0 plan. She said people from all around the world had written in and asked what they can do to help their cause.

Ambiga said chapter four would be called the ugly side and it will be about the threats by the government to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) and that Bersih members were labelled communists, Jews, Hindu extremist and anti-Islam.

But she said, it was those things that had made the Bersih experience so different.

Ambiga said chapter five will be the week before the rally, about the stadium offer by the prime minister at first, which he later said was outside of KL, the meeting with Agung and meetings with police.

“I made my way to that hotel on the night before on the back of a motorbike, I’ve never been on a motorbike and that was my paranoia and I couldn’t risk not being allowed in,” she said with a chuckle.

She was among a long list of people who were banned from entering the city on July 9.

She said the next chapter would be about her experience on that day, how she was tear gassed at the KL Sentral underpass, and then detained. Ambiga pointed out that she was concerned about how they would treat her but the police had treated her well.

Chapter seven, would be about the reported police brutality, she said.

“I would also write about some of the policemen who were very good to the people who behaved very professionally who allowed them to come in and leave peacefully because they show they have now demonstrated that assemblies can be peacefully conducted and the police can play a meaningful role to make sure that happens,” Ambiga said.

The last chapter would be called the rakyat takeover because after the rally, she said there was an awakening and awareness.

She acknowledged that there are “good people” in the police force, the government and all kinds of authoritative bodies.

“Now is the time for them to stand up and speak if they feel what is happening now is not right and i would appeal to them to stand with the rakyat and fight for what is great and for what is right for Malaysia.

“We have to show the way sometimes. The people just have to take over and get on with it because we are sick of slogans and taglines, we’re not interested in that,” she said.

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