Malaysians in the U.S. gather to discuss the movement for political reform

By Generation 709

Malaysians living in the United States gathered in New York City to discuss their ongoing concerns for potential political changes in the Post-Bersih era. Yong Kai Ping, the chief editor of the Malaysiakini Chinese site, was invited to speak about the latest developments in their homeland. He highlighted that overseas citizens are always the mother of revolution.

Therefore Yong encouraged Malaysians overseas to contribute their part to political reforms by mobilizing any resources that are available to them.

The talk was held in New York City on August 18, 2011 by Generation 709 in the United States. The event began with a screening of a video from the Bersih 2.0 rally produced by Malaysiakini. Yong pointed out that the Bersih 2.0 march was a demonstration organized without a centralized command structure, with many participants from younger generations.

He described how the momentum of the movement had been maintained by rally participants sharing their stories online. He identified challenges for the future to articulate specific demands to the government and to ensure that reforms are followed through. He warns that “we really shouldn’t depend on royal commission itself” since most of these royal commissions around the world “haven’t delivered any satisfactory result”.

Yong also emphasized that about 40,000 Malaysians are living overseas. Therefore, it is important to know “how to organize, to be able to speak out and to play the role of a significant pressure group” from overseas.

Many audience members shared their personal experiences of how they were reconnected to Malaysian politics after many years of living abroad. One of the audiences reflected on how his family members truly love their country but have been apathetic to Malaysian politics as they have no idea how to play their part in reform. Many of them who studied overseas are also reluctant to go back to Malaysia as they feel frustrated about the politics and policies there.

On July 9, 2011, BERSIH 2.0 rallies were held in Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland. Generation 709 in the United States is formed to maintain BERSIH 2.0 Movement’s momentum, and Bersihans’ commitment.

To continue connecting overseas Malaysians to the political situation at home, Generation 709 in the United States will be organizing further events across the United States, such as YELLOW gatherings and voter registration sessions in seven cities on September 17 (Sat), Malaysia Day weekend.