Side Views

Why are we here today? ― Ambiga Sreenevasan

January 12, 2013

JAN 12 ― My friends, why are we here today?

Why have we chosen to give up our Saturday to gather here? Together. Again.

The answer is, we love our country. We care about Malaysia. We care about Malaysians. Our children, our parents, their future, our future.

And more importantly we are here because we have hope. We think that a better Malaysia is within our grasp. We know it is. I know it is. And it is all because of you ― a rakyat that cares enough to do something about achieving a bright future for our country.

As far as Bersih 2.0 is concerned, we just want clean and fair elections. If there is to be change in the leadership, we want to do it through the ballot box. Our objectives are clear and clean and fair. Our message to all the political parties is: Respect our rights as citizens, honour our vote, and, give us clean and fair elections!

Yet I have unhappy news ― by all accounts, GE 13 will be far from clean and fair. I will not go into the details, many of you know them. The recent fiasco with the overseas voters is yet another example. The suggested process is not clean, not transparent and the conditions that have been imposed on overseas voters are not, in my view, constitutional.

So why am I so sure the election will not be clean and fair? Well, one of the easiest demands to fulfil is to give free and fair access to the media to all parties. It takes just a phone call. Yet we see no move towards that and the mainstream media continues with its skewed and often dishonest reports. It shows a complete lack of political will to even the playing field between the parties.

Does that mean, however, that we throw in the towel? That we walk away in despair? On the contrary, Bersih has two important projects that we have launched which we believe will make a difference in the next elections.

The first is our project called PEMANTAU, a citizens’ observer mission. This is not a new concept as it has been carried out in numerous countries. Studies have found that citizen observer missions can reduce political violence and fraud.

We are excited about this project and we are looking out for approximately 10,000 volunteers to help us cover 30-40 per cent of the total number of constituencies.

The second project is to bring out the vote. (Keluar mengundi, lawan penipuan). Although our voter turnout is high, a higher turnout will help to mitigate fraud to some extent. Both these projects need your help and your input. Both are projects of the people, for the people and by the people.

So there is much work to be done. And we can all be involved to ensure as far as possible, that fraud and discrepancies can be minimised in the 13th GE. Knowing the rakyat I know you will rise to the occasion as the nation calls to you to take part in its future.

As that famous song goes, my fellow Malaysians, “This is it”!!

* Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is the co-chair of Bersih, the movement for clean and fair elections.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.