Bersih 2.0's rally on July 9 received the support of such a cross section of society that even sex workers showed up to call for free and fair elections, claims PAS exco member Mohamed Hanipa Maidin.
“On July 9, before the rally began I came upon a Chinese activist.
“He was involved with a NGO that was supporting sex workers along Lorong Haji Taib,” said Mohamed Hanipa (photo, right).
“He said some of the sex workers were seeking leave in groups in order to participate in Bersih.
“This I believe to be true as this person was really with the NGO,” he said.
“If sex workers can apply for leave to join the Bersih rally, this proves that BN is truly in trouble - even prostitutes do not want to support BN,” said the lawyer to hearty laughter and applause from the roughly 200 crowd at a ceramah in Gombak last night.
Mohamed Hanipa added that this indicated that Malaysians from all segments of society see Bersih's eight demands as valid.
Speaking to Malaysiakini after the ceramah, Mohamed Hanipa said that the activist had told him that it was the aggressive media attention on the rally that had prompted the sex worker to join in.
'Rakyat no longer in fear'
During the rally titled 'Bersih crackdown justified?' in Taman Melewar, Kuala Lumpur, the PAS exco said that the rally had succeeded in eradicating the rakyat's fears in standing up to the ruling party.
“They can arrest us, charge us, with the intention of intimidating us. They are wrong.
“On July 9, Malaysians extinguished their fear of the BN government,” he said.
Mohamed Hanipa noted how Malaysians of all races and religions walked together despite police intimidation and harassment
“The people's anger (towards the government) can no longer be quelled by police action,” he said..
Also at the ceramah was PKR vice-president N Surendran, PAS Muslimat deputy chief Mariah Mahmud and Bersih steering committee member Wong Chin Huat.
In particular, Mohamed Hanipa slammed the police for allegedly running PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu (right), fondly known as Mat Sabu, off the road.
“The way they apprehended Mat Sabu; they knocked him down as if his life or safety was of no value,” said the practising lawyer, adding that the PAS leader was forced to give his statement at Jinjang police station after getting treatment for his torn knee ligament.
“I have never seen such brutality,” he said, adding that he had personally witnessed the incident.
'Let's walk for Baharuddin'
Meanwhile Surendran blasted the brutality of police action that he said had eventually cost the death of Bersih participant Baharuddin Ahmad.
If the police had not used such force and allowed the rally to proceed to the stadium, Baharuddin would still be alive to day, said the human rights lawyer.
“He is our martyr, and who's fault is this? Last Saturday, he walked for us, so this Saturday, let's walk for Baharuddin,” said the PKR vice-president at the ceramah.
“I will not let this matter rest, in order to get justice for his family and all Malaysians,” he said.
Wong, meanwhile, said that one of the achievements of the rally was that the people of all races are now “feel closer together”.
“Malays and Indian shared their salt and water. For the Chinese, this is a first - they have never experienced (such camaraderie) until now,” said Wong, calling the turnout the 'Clean 1Malaysia'.
The rally, he said, brought about 'Malaysia 2.0' in clearing away any suspicion or doubts amongst the races.
Wong said in the 50 years of independence the rakyat had never achieved true independence, as the time was spent with communities suspecting one another.
“(On July 9) oppression has united us... 1Malaysia remains just propaganda,” said Wong.