Hassan backs Bersih’s call for protest, says reforms taking too long

Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim says the slow pace of reforms has left the people disillusioned and disappointed in the unity government.

(FMT) – PKR veteran Hassan Karim says Bersih should take to the streets to protest the sluggish pace of reforms under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership.

The Pasir Gudang MP said the issue has left the people disillusioned and disappointed in the unity government.

“So it is only natural if Bersih decides to take to the streets to voice their protest against Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the government under Anwar’s leadership for their failure to implement the changes as promised,” he told FMT.

Last Wednesday, Bersih warned that it would not hesitate to organise street protests again if the government does not commit to its institutional and political reform agenda.

At a press conference, Bersih chairman Faisal Abdul Aziz said Malaysia was in a critical period of “democratic transition” that required the coming together of all parties to realise reforms.

“Bersih will not hesitate to mobilise the people back to the streets, a ‘language’ comprehensible to those in power who have been dismissing the people’s aspirations with excuses against supporting reforms. We urge the government to implement the reform agenda without compromise,” he said.

Faisal also said the handling of recent corruption cases involving political elites, including former prime minister Najib Razak, had left the public as well as civil society organisations disappointed and angry.

However, government spokesman Fahmi Fadzil said the government has never forgotten about the institutional reforms it once promised, adding that it is one of the main agendas pursued by Anwar’s administration.

Hassan said Bersih’s fight for free and fair elections also included demands for reforms as pledged by PH in their election manifesto.

The people have very high hopes for the reforms promised, he added.

Hassan pointed out how between 2018 and 2020, the previous PH government led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also failed to implement the promised reforms, with the latter claiming that the PH manifesto was “not a bible”.

“So when Anwar, a leading advocate for reform and who spearheaded the movement back in 1998, became prime minister, of course people anticipated the promised reforms, but more than a year into the Anwar administration, reforms are progressing too slowly,” he said.

Bersih has been holding protests since 2007 to shine a light on alleged electoral malpractices and to push for fair elections. It also held rallies in 2015 and 2016 over the 1MDB scandal.