The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih


September 1, 2015

The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih

And after that came Bersih 2 and  Bersih 3, and now, Bersih 4. But the Bersih that came after the 10th November 2007 Bersih march was not what we had in mind. It was not a political movement. It was neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. It was a reform movement, first for electoral reforms and then for political reforms.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

by Raja Petra Kamarudin

RPKI did not write anything over the last one week because Malaysia was experiencing Bersih fever and no one really wanted to read anything that had nothing to do with Bersih. But then if you do write about Bersih people would expect you to write something pro-Bersih and in support of Bersih. Any article that does not ask people to come out in support of Bersih would be seen as anti-opposition.

So I thought better I do not write anything and allow Bersih to end first before writing, although a number of people did ask me why I am so quiet after sometimes coming out with three articles a day.

So, yes, people are still talking about Bersih till today. Many are analysing Bersih from this or that angle. So I, too, will write about Bersih, but not from the pro or anti angle. I will just write about…Bersih.

Bersih was first mooted in 2007 after the launch of the anti-Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi movement in 2006. Of course, it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was behind that movement so understandably we did not get the support of the top leadership of PKR and DAP. The PAS leaders, however, did not seem to have much problems working with Dr Mahathir.

Soon after the 2006 ‘Get Badawi’ movement was launched, Dr Mahathir suggested that the pro-government and pro-opposition Bloggers unite. We had our first meeting at the Press Club attended by Bloggers from both sides of the political divide where we formed a committee. They suggested that I become the President but I declined. I suggested instead that Mahathir loyalist Ron should take that post but he, too, declined. So finally another Mahathir loyalist, Rocky, was appointed the President instead.

It was soon after that when PKR held its annual assembly in Penang, which I also attended but only as a ‘reporter’ and not as a delegate or party member. Azmin Ali took the stage and in front of hundreds of PKR delegates he shouted, “All those who are collaborating with Dr Mahathir can fook off!” Anwar Ibrahim was smirking as he looked at me, giving me a very clear message that that meant people like me who were now working with Dr Mahathir.

t was DAP leader Ronnie Liu, one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Bersih, who contacted me to ask me to get involved. They needed someone who could reach the palace because the plan was to march to the Agong’s palace to hand over a petition for electoral reforms. I then contacted the late Tunku Vic and asked him to also participate because I would need his help to talk to Istana Negara.

It was around that time that UMNO Youth organised a blood donation drive at the Kampung Baru mosque and I asked Ronnie to mobilise a group of DAP supporters, of course all Chinese, to go and donate blood at the mosque, which they did. I felt if DAP could bring along a group of Chinese to donate blood at Mukhriz Mahathir’s event in Kampung Baru that would be good for the planned cooperation between us from the opposition and those pro-government supporters.

We had a number of meetings leading to the 10th November 2007 Bersih march, some in a DAP chap’s house, Uncle Lee, and some in Ron’s house. I even brought along some UMNO supporters to the DAP meeting. Clearly Bersih was not an opposition effort but a joint effort between pro-opposition and pro-government people. Ron even arranged for someone to donate Bersih T-shirts and baseball caps.

The key to the whole thing would be to get His Majesty the Agong to agree to receive the petition from Bersih. And this was the work of Tunku Vic and Din Merican who made numerous phone calls to the right people to obtain the consent of Istana Negara. We made it very clear that Bersih was not a political movement but a non-partisan movement that was supported by opposition as well as government supporters, the UMNO supporters in particular. Basically it was a peoples’ movement with no political affiliations and one that was only interested in electoral reforms.

We eventually received consent from Istana Negara and were told that only ten representatives would be allowed to enter the palace. The rest, which we expected to number in the tens of thousands, would have to remain outside the palace gates. And with that the police, which had initially classified the planned march as an illegal gathering, reluctantly had to agree to let us march.

Bersih was now a movement officially recognised by the government and Istana Negara. We then sat down to prepare our list of electoral reforms that we wanted to hand to His Majesty the Agong.

On 10th November 2007, we marched to the palace but on reaching the palace gate we were told to wait outside and not go in yet. The palace representative came outside to meet us and said that our ten representatives are welcome to enter the palace and we replied that we had been told to wait because some of the party leaders were on the way.

The crowd that had been waiting for almost an hour began to get restless. Some walked up to me to ask what was going on. Is the palace now refusing to allow us in? No, I replied. In fact they came out to invite us in. But we had been told to wait for the party leaders.

Eventually the party leaders arrived and immediately took the petition from us and walked into the palace. After handing over the petition to the palace they came out and started making speeches. We could see that the police were becoming agitated because we had assured them that this was not going to be turned into a political rally.

After the party leaders finished giving their speeches we broke up and went home. The Bersih rally, which had originally been intended as a peoples’ march to the Agong’s palace to hand a petition calling for electoral reforms, had been turned into a political rally. Understandably Tunku Vic was not too pleased because that had more or less violated the trust that the Agong had placed in us when we assured His Majesty that this was not about politics but about electoral reforms.

After that, of course, came the 2008 general election, which could be said to be partly influenced by Bersih and the Hindraf rally that same month. It also cannot be denied that Pakatan Rakyat’s success was also because the pro-government and pro-opposition Bloggers united to send the same message to the voters, which is vote for change.

Never before in history had those from both sides of the political divide united under one cause.

2008 was the year when we came under the banner of Barisan Rakyat and not Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. We even had our own poster. After the 2008 general election we decided to take the Bersih effort one step further. Bersih was about electoral reforms. However, to be able to see electoral reforms we need to first see political reforms. So we met, yet again, in Tunku Vic’s house together with Umno and DAP supporters to come out with a document that listed down what political reforms were needed.

Basically, electoral reforms would be part of or a component of political reforms. If we can see political reforms then electoral reforms would come as well. It is not enough we just see electoral reforms. We need more than that. We need political reforms first, which would include electoral reforms.

But by then those in Pakatan Rakyat no longer wanted to talk about this. They had already won five states and had denied Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in Parliament. They were confident that in the next general election in 2013 they would be able to win the federal government.

Those in Barisan Nasional, such as Dr Mahathir, also no longer needed to fight for reforms. Their only interest was to oust the Prime Minister and that had already been achieved. And that was the only objective they had in mind. Reforms were the excuse they were using just to get rid of the Prime Minister.

So we found that the fight for political reforms was no longer on the agenda of both sides of the political divide. So this meant electoral reforms would also no longer be on the agenda as well. And this meant we would need a third force if we wanted to achieve the reforms we were seeking. And this would have to be something that the civil society pushes for.

Barisan Rakyat-2007Barisan Rakyat not Pakatan Rakyat

And that, of course, was when we came out with the idea of a civil society movement that we called the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement or MCLM. But that is a story I have told many times so no need for me to repeat myself.

And after that came Bersih 2 and  Bersih 3, and now, Bersih 4. But the Bersih that came after the 10th November 2007 Bersih march was not what we had in mind. It was not a political movement. It was neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. It was a reform movement, first for electoral reforms and then for political reforms.

But I suppose that is something that can now never be achieved. Anyway, to me, the unsung heroes who made Bersih back in 2007 a success were Tunku Vic, Ronnie Liu, Din Merican, Ron, Uncle Lee, Jad, and many more from UMNO, DAP, PAS and PKR, Bloggers included, who put aside their political differences for the sake of seeking reforms.

source: http://www.malaysia-today.net/the-unsung-heroes-behind-bersih/

 

11 thoughts on “The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih

  1. So, the follow-on Bersih series under Ambiga & now Maria Chin are but the bastardized versions of the original. It is now fully DAP-SPONSORED though open to be hijacked by anyone with self-interests & a little following. And the ‘BANGANG’ rally goers got sore throats shouting, losing good sleep and even to the extent of risking arrests, being tear-gassed & spiced-up water cannoned, just to make nuisance of themselves to others in the streets. How stupid can people get???

  2. “The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih”

    Dear Pete,

    Yes indeed & I was there with Bersih 1 “behind” the leading groups right up to the palace on 10th November 2007 Bersih march.

    “The key to the whole thing would be to get His Majesty the Agong to agree to receive the petition from Bersih.

    And this was the work of Tunku Vic and Din Merican who made numerous phone calls to the right people to obtain the consent of Istana Negara…”

    “…the unsung heroes who made Bersih back in 2007 a success were Tunku Vic, Ronnie Liu, Din Merican, Ron, Uncle Lee, Jad, and many more from UMNO, DAP, PAS and PKR, Bloggers included, who put aside their political differences for the sake of seeking reforms…”

    Yes indeed and that also included you Pete, the Royal Blogger RPK…!

    Hope this will be part of the origins, objectives & history of Bersih from the horse’s mouth.

    Cheers & take care Pete, Marina & family in Manchester.

  3. I wonder why some people continue to take RPK seriously.

    Just thank him for what he did in the past, and ignore the
    pro-regime propaganda he is writing in the present.

    What Rewcastle-Brown wrote in response to his attacks
    on her is measured, civilised and right to the point.

  4. From Rewcastle-Brown:

    Sarawak Report Stalked And Harassed In London

    20 Jul 2015

    Spied on having coffee!

    Sarawak Report has filed a report with the Metropolitan Police in London after establishing proof of wide-ranging harassment by persons believed to be in the employ of UMNO in Malaysia.

    The acts of illegal harassment include teams of stalkers, who have followed around after the Editor of Sarawak Report in past days, plainly waiting outside her house and then pursuing her during the day.

    These persons have included a bald, muscle-bound middle-aged white man and a man of Chinese Malaysian appearance, who took photographs of her in broad daylight in Hyde park and other individuals who have followed her car.

    Other forms of harassment reported are computer hacking, disruption to the radio programme RFS and what appears to be the bugging of conversations.

    These matters are now being countered and are also being investigated by a central London police station, who have put a protection detail onto the case.

    Protection Group International and Embassy Staff

    Sarawak Report has notified police that the company Protection Group International (PGI) has been hired to sustain a campaign against Sarawak Report and it currently is our main suspect behind this harassment.

    ‘Surveillance’ is one of the key services, which the company run by former soldiers is able to provide.

    However, PGI’s Managing Director Cyber and Technology, Mr Brian Lord, also trades on his past background as a Deputy Director for Intelligence and Cyber Operations at the world famous UK listening centre Cheltenham’s GCHQ.

    Cyber “intelligence” Chief at PGI, Brian Lord

    It is Mr Lord who has gone on the record falsely alleging tampering by Sarawak Report in the Malaysian newspaper, the UMNO owned New Straits Times.

    We are concerned at the fact that PGI has being hired by the London based company PetroSaudi International, which is at the centre of the current investigations over misappropriated billions from the development fund 1MDB.

    We believe PGI is acting on PetroSaudi’s behalf to try attempt to discredit and intimidate Sarawak Report, which broke much of the information about their confirmed client.

    Sarawak Report has firmly denied all Brian Lord’s allegations of ‘tampering’ through our lawyers and has challenged PGI to produce a shred of proof for its allegations, which PGI has signally failed to do.

    We now demand an assurance that Mr Lord’s much vaunted ‘cyber intelligence” skills, acquired under the employ of the British government, are not being misused in an illegal fashion against Sarawak Report and that any stalking should cease.

    The apparent Malaysian nationality of one of the photographers in the Hyde Park operation has also lead Sarawak Report to cite possible involvement by Special Branch staff based at Malaysia’s London High Commission in this harassment exercise.

    Sarawak Report concludes that the purpose of this operation is plainly to intimidate the newsblog, which has recently revealed information about missing billions from the development fund 1MDB.

    Raja Petra Kamaruddin

    RPK was the anticipated recipient of the information – and receive it he did

    The Manchester based blogger known as RPK, who is now generally accepted as being at the service of UMNO leader, the PM Najib Razak, can also now be confirmed as having been closely linked to what is clearly an orchestrated intimidation exercise.

    We have reported to the police that the surveillance exercise carried out by these teams was almost immediately reported by ‘RPK‘ in his stridently pro-Najib blog Malaysia Today.

    The Prime Minister, who has been complaining through RPK amongst others about so-called conspiracies to defame him, therefore himself stands accused of conspiring to stalk and harass journalists who have been uncovering corruption in Malaysia.

    RPK has not only named the person who met Sarawak Report in the park that day, he has also attempted to name other people, who are presumably suspected by his collaborators of being possible informers (so far entirely wrongly in every case).

    RPK has even gone so far as to place ID numbers of people suspected by this team onto his site, presumably in order to frighten potential sources of information.

    Selecting targets to intimidate through RPK’s blog

    Sarawak Report has not met with and does not know the people, who are being identified in such a sinister and threatening manner.

    However, we deplore this disgraceful form of blatant and intimidation.

    Caught! The trap that exposed the stalkers

    Sarawak Report was able to confirm the suspected stalking last week by adopting a simple strategy of meeting with a prominent Malaysian in London’s Hyde Park.

    Open ground – Hyde Park

    The Malaysian, who has a London home, was a social contact, but emphatically not ever a source of information for this blog.

    He is a known pro-UMNO official who was previously a senior law enforcer before retirement.

    Having been introduced once, over a year ago, he agreed to a social meeting near in a Hyde Park cafe, which was a short walk from his hotel.

    This meeting helped Sarawak Report establish the suspected surveillance was genuine because the public cafe was in isolated open ground.

    Sure enough, at least three surveillance teams were easily spotted in this open area, desperately trying to follow the journalist and to photograph the entirely innocent contact.

    These teams then followed both Sarawak Report and the person met in different directions out of the park. The identities of the stalkers have been captured on CCTV and the matter is being investigated.

    Threatening behaviour ends in comedy

    photographing through the window here at the Hyde Park Gallery

    One of the stalkers on this occasion, a Malaysian Chinese man, had even tried to blatantly photograph the Sarawak Report editor and her contact by filming through the window of the cafe over the shoulders of nearby tourists.

    Comically, the tourists drifted off while the photographer was still intently trying to photograph the meeting through the window and he failed to notice his ostensible subject matter was no longer there!

    At this point Sarawak Report went outside and confronted the stalker who then ran away.

    Nevertheless, this same individual later hung at the back door of the cafe and followed the person who had taken tea with Sarawak Report’s editor all the way back to their hotel.

    Proof!

    Sure enough, it was RPK who proved the whole network operation when he duly reported the meeting in his blog over the past weekend.

    Only Sarawak Report and the person being met had known about or discussed the rendez vous, making this blatant surveillance the only possible source of the information to RPK.

    RPK named the contact as a senior from MACC official and implied (entirely incorrectly) that he was a source of Sarawak Report. This individual has now sent legal notices to the Kamaruddin over the misrepresentation of his involvement.

    We apologise to the unwitting participant in our exercise, for whom a cup of tea in the park turned out to be a baffling game of hide and seek with tough looking stalkers hiding behind trees.

  5. Lest we forget late Bernard Khoo ( zorro unmasked) and who stood by RPK and his son. My first article in ZORROUNMASKED was in defense of RPK. When he did not please the peanut gallery.

  6. Thaya,
    Hahahaha…….Hahahaha…..What about his side kick, ktemoc. Oh come on! your brushes with him at malaysiakini letter has no ending. Apa macam! We can ask susan loone to be the moderator…….Hahahaha.
    Kaytee’s latest posting is equally shocking blue…….Whoops! Sorry Mariska. To sum up his point on Najib…..Hahahaha…..here comes the song…..

  7. “And the ‘BANGANG’ rally goers got sore throats shouting, losing good sleep and even to the extent of risking arrests, being tear-gassed & spiced-up water cannoned, just to make nuisance of themselves to others in the streets. How stupid can people get???” … Hahaha you have a problem with Bersih AFF aka Hater? RPK is another guy who has no moral grounds to comment on anything now that he looks like a pariah political blogger who is living abroad.

  8. As they say, there are no friends or enemies in politics. It all depends on the situation and circumstances of the times. Not many will stay true to their principles and allegiance to the very end. I had great respect for RPK and the band of bloggers in those early times of Bersih. When he changed course, I felt a little sadness but I did understand his situation, having had to run off to UK due to the court cases and his son been threatened with jail. He is after all a survivor. The Tunku is however a different kettle of fish. At the end of the day, it all depends on ourselves to either live with a conscience or survive without one or justify ourselves to the end.

  9. WTF is Raja Petra Kamaruddin? He is just a aristo——-cochon. Bangsatwan…..Enough of all these royalists. If Robbespiere was beheaded after giving his best to french revolution, RPK is yilak……..I will not shed any tears if he is sent to the “gallows”

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