‘Aunty Bersih’ promises to show polls reform panel how to fix system

(The Malaysian Insider) – Annie Ooi Siew Lan, the retired teacher dubbed “Aunty Bersih”, challenged today the polls review panel’s sincerity to electoral reform and vowed to show it her list of how to fix the system in the next seven days.

The slight, skinny 65-year-old became an accidental icon when she was pictured battling chemical-laced water cannons and tear gas shot by the police into the locked-down capital city to join in the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9 for cleaner elections.

File photo of Ooi during the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9, 2011.

She stunned the parliamentary select committee (PSC) today with her forthright manner from the start when she demanded the “vote to be given to everyone 21 years old and above.”

To this, she cited as examples nurses, doctors, soldiers and policemen on duty on polling day.

“We don’t want any more corruption,” said the short-haired woman dressed in a pale yellow top reminiscent of the Bersih T-shirt she wore on July 9. The coalition of 62 civil societies has adopted yellow as its colour.

The nine-man PSC appeared perplexed by Ooi’s statement.

Its chair, Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, explained that it was the panel’s aim and asked her for suggestions, which appeared to vex Ooi.

“There are eight demands out there. Loud and clear. I’ve no need to repeat them,” she said, referring to Bersih 2.0’s list of demands.

“Cakap pun tak dengar, ada yang dengar pun tak bertindak, apa lagi? Susahkah ini keadilan? [What’s the point of speaking further, those who hear don’t act, what else is there? Is justice so difficult?]” she asked.

When Kangar MP Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad ventured to reply that it was because those who qualified to vote did not do so, Ooi shot back: “Why is it so hard? Why so long and hard [to register voters]?”

“You want solutions? Solutions to what?” she pushed the panel to answer before promising to return in seven days with her list of practical solutions to carry out electoral reform.

“If the sick can’t go to the voting stations, can’t you do something about it?” she asked, her voice rising as with her temper.

“I speak for the voiceless. What you’re asking from me is solutions. I’m just a simple, simple, simple person,” she cried out, prompting Ongkili to plead with her to calm down.

Bersih 2.0 has been pushing the Election Commission to carry out eight steps they claim can be carried out immediately and will improve the electoral system before the next national polls are held, widely expected to be called early next year.