Bersih 2.0: It’s 50k, and a big success

In this last week of 2011, we will be re-publishing selected stories carried in FMT throughout this year. We find that these stories still remain relevant in the present context.

Undoubtedly the Bersih rally on July 9 was one of the biggest stories for 2011. Reproduced here is a July 9 report of a post-rally press conference from the organisers who were happy with their rally despite intimidation from the authorities.

Tarani Palani and Tashny Sukumaran, Free Malaysia Today

Bersih 2.0 has called its rally a “big success”, but added that it is just one more step in the long walk towards free and fair elections.

Speaking at a press conference here, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Subramaniam Pillay said the rally exceeded expectations.

“It’s a big success but this (fighting for electoral reforms) is not a one day event. It was sucessful beyond expectations,” he said, adding that the objective of raising awareness had been achieved.

Bersih 2.0 believes that the crowd could have been as big as 50,000 but conceded that reporters would be able to judge the number better.

Bersih 2.0 also condemned the arrests of more than 600 people, including that of its chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

Ambiga says she’s fine’

Steering committee member Andrew Khoo said he had received a text message from Ambiga stating that she was fine.

“She said that she was okay and that her phone battery was dying and that she wants to save it for important messages,” he added. She is expected to be released later today.

Meanwhile, national laureate A Samad Ismail said that another date would be fixed to hand over a memorandum to the King on electoral reforms.

“We tried to head towards the palace several times, but the police kept turning us away and threatened us with arrest,” he said.

Samad also criticised the police for acting in a “cruel” manner. “I saw them randomly firing tear gas at the crowd,” he said.

One of the questions posed during the press conference was whether the rally had been multiracial, to which the steering committee replied that people of all races had participated.