The Bersih 2.0 rally in Malaysia on July 9, 2011, will proceed but it will no longer be a street march, since it will be held inside the Stadium Merdeka. The Bersih (clean) event has earlier been declared illegal by the government and some of its organizers and supporters have been detained by police forces.
The first Bersih democracy walk gathered more than 50,000 people on November 2007. The objective of the planned rally this weekend is to push for electoral reforms. Bersih 2.0 has eight demands to the government which includes the elimination of dirty politics:
Malaysians are tired of dirty politics that has been the main feature of the Malaysian political arena. We demand for all political parties and politicians to put an end to gutter politics. As citizens and voters, we are not interested in gutter politics; we are interested in policies that affect the nation.
Malaysiakini quotes KSN who insists that Bersih 2.0 must be organized all over the country:
The protests must be held all over the country by Bersih 2.0 so that the people from all walks of life have the opportunity to participate and understand the message of Bersih on free and fair elections without disruptions from the police and the hooligans from Umno, Perkasa, etc. (Note: Umno is the country’s ruling party)
Koh Lay Chin responds to those who are worried about the traffic impact of the protest event:
These groups seem to forget that peaceful protests are a hallmark of democratic, developed nations, and that avoiding some amount of traffic disruption is not more important than citizens’ civil rights.
June Rubis encourages the ‘average good Malaysian’ to join Bersih 2.0:
The Bersih 2.0 march will bring about change, whatever that brings, but we cannot fear that. The alternative is to stay unhappy, complaining, morally outraged but not doing anything significant about it until the next generation has enough of our staid complacency.
We need courage, and we need faith. We need you — the average good Malaysian — in large numbers to come down on July 9 to stand together, and say, we need a better electoral process for our country. We need a better democracy that works.
This is why we need to march.
Concerned academicians signed a statement criticizing the exaggerated reaction of the government:
Since the pursuit of such a campaign is undeniably noble, and timely, we are extremely perturbed that the government has resorted to harsh measures and use of draconian legislation to prevent the organizers from mounting a public rally.
JoFan Pang believes the change of rally venue does not matter:
Contrary to what many of my friends think, in my opinion, having the rally in a stadium really isn’t such a bad idea after all. Now that the rally is legal, and the FRU will not act violently in a legal assembly, more people can just decide to join the rally, wherever it may be. My parents for instance now feel more secure to let me go. Friends who thought it was not a good idea to join an ‘illegal’ rally now have decided to go as well. A stadium overflowing with an ocean of people in yellow-tshirts would send a strong and bold statement to the government and authorities.
Charles Hector thinks the stadium will not be able to accommodate all supporters:
A peaceful assembly in a Stadium would surely attract a much smaller number – because for many it would have been to lobby for more support from other ordinary Malaysians – who are sitting on the fence now. In a stadium, this audience will not be there & it may be more just people of the same stand coming together.
Here are some reactions from Twitter:
@KHKoh: ”I'd rather they blind me with teargas, than i blind myself with fear” -posted on Bersih 2.0 FB page
@greeneyesjelly: i'm not against p/r supporting bersih, but do it in a more subtle way. we all knw whom e/c's working w/, u don't have 2 remind us tht
@FandiRuffey: “@khalids: If the police have the same determination against criminals as they are against #Bersih , Malaysia would much more peaceful.”
@ZainiShukor: M'sians should b able to distinguish a genuine quest for a fair elec. & the hidden agenda of a deeply flawed politician! NO to #Bersih !
Aside from the hashtag #bersih, Malaysians used the hashtag #roadblock as police mounted several roadblocks in many parts of Kuala Lumpur a few days before the planned Bersih event. The roadblocks created a monstrous traffic jam in the city. Here are some of the related tweets:
@SyazwanHassan: Pleaze ok..stop roadblock against me..I had to suffer up to 2 hour stranded in traffic jam..it took about 1 hour for 500M distance ahead..
@farouqq: RT @samteyy: The most roadblock ever in the history.
@RidaBWasHere: I just pass a 5 roadblock otw back home in Gombak. Suddenly, I dun feel like I live in Malaysia. Omg.
@EvelynHua: It's madness. Bad traffic. Roadblock everywhere. I'm staying home.
@hafizkl: U cannot blame who make the roadblock but blame who lead the #BerSHIT.
Bersih 2.0 organizers have another problem since the Stadium Merdeka has rejected their application to use the venue on July 9.