Bersih not looking for an Arab Spring, Ambiga tells CNN’s Amanpour

To be honest, as far as our movement is concerned, we’re not — we’re not worried about who wins. We’re worried about the process.

Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

The Bersih 2.0 movement does not want to cause an Arab Spring in Malaysia, Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan told CNN in a rare interview on international television aired here this morning.

She stressed that the election watchdog group she heads only wants a clean polls process to ensure a democratically-elected government.

Ambiga told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during the New York interview that Bersih 2.0 is not opposed to the possibility of the present government returning to power after the next polls, provided that its leaders are elected fairly.

“Well, let me tell you where we’re coming from. We don’t want an Arab Spring,” the activist said to the renowned CNN chief international correspondent.

Ambiga was being interviewed alongside another pro-reform fighter, Ukraine’s Eugenia Tymoshenko, the daughter of the jailed former prime minister Julia Tymoshenko, on “Amanpour”, the nightly foreign affairs programme on CNN International which Amanpour anchors for.

Both were described by Amanpour as “brave women” and “brave voices for democracy”.

“We want to choose our leaders through clean and fair elections. We want to do it through the ballot box, which is why the government really, if they want peaceful transition of any sort — it can be the same government,” Ambiga said, according to a transcript of the interview available on

Amanpour had asked Ambiga if she felt that Malaysia would witness the same uprising seen over the past two years in the Middle East, pointing to the string of pro-democracy protests that the prominent lawyer has led since 2007.

“The process is important because what it needs to reflect is the will of the people. It’s about legitimacy. It’s about honouring the right of the voter to vote,” she said.

The Arab Spring or the Arab revolution has seen rulers forced from power in several countries across the Arab world including Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, in a wave of anti-government street demonstrations.

“It can be the same people coming in,” insisted Ambiga, stressing again that Bersih 2.0 does not want a Malaysian version of the Arab Spring.

“They have to allow it to happen through clean and fair elections. That’s what we’re asking for. We want to bring change through the ballot box, if there is to be change at all,” she said.