Malaysia

Bersih nothing to do with faith and race, Pak Samad tells Perkasa

By Syed Mu’az Syed Putra
April 06, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Datuk A. Samad Said dismissed today Perkasa Youth’s call for Muslims to boycott Bersih’s third rally for free and fair elections on April 28, insisting that people of all religions should fight for democracy.

The Malay rights NGO had labelled Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan “the “anti-Christ for Muslims” and a “traitor” to the nation, saying it was “unfortunate a supposed nationalist” like co-chair Samad (picture) was not acting like “a smart person.”

But the Malay literary icon told The Malaysian Insider the question of race and religion does not arise in the rally at Dataran Merdeka which was called by the electoral reform movement to head off what it says will be the “dirtiest” polls to date.

“They should see that Ambiga is not the only one in Bersih. If they see Ambiga as someone from a different religion who they must fight against, then am I, as a Muslim, also to be fought against?

“Anyone can help improve democracy, whether Christian or Muslim,” the national laureate said.

Bersih had said it was disappointed by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms that was formed following the July 9, 2011 rally for free and fair elections which saw tens of thousands flood the streets of the capital.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds in chaotic scenes which saw over 1,500 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier in a clampdown that earned condemnation for the Najib administration in the international press.

The 84-member coalition said the PSC had failed to address its eight demands including cleaning up the electoral roll, a minimum 21 days’ campaign period and reforming postal voting.

But Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has promised to look into the recommendations of the panel, insisting his government also wants clean and fair elections.

The opposition had also backed the July 9, 2011 Bersih march.