Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has assured Malaysians in Paris that they are not alone in the struggle towards clean and fair elections.

“When you are fighting for the country that you love and you say that you want a better government, you are not alone. You will never be alone when you stand up for what is right and you (should) know that there are people who support you,” she stressed during a talk at a luncheon on Saturday.

Bersih co-chairperson - Ambiga SreenevasanAmbiga (left) explained to the 30 attendees that it is not a question of not having fear, rather it is the courage to overcome fear that makes one strong enough to fight against corruption and an unjust system.

“It is something that comes from within (to protest against injustice). Like all the Malaysians who came out for the Bersih rallies, they all came because they have overcame their fear,” she said.

She added that intimidation does not work any more, referring to complaints by Malaysians in France of being followed and “harassed” by government officials.

“I have no doubt that they follow people like me. Fair enough, but definitely not ordinary Malaysians. That doesn’t happen any more. We are in a different era,” she said, adding that those who feel threatened should see the Malaysian ambassador in France.

Speaking about her own experiences of being threatened and intimidated, she said that circumstances have forced her to be more resilient.

“When I was attacked badly, I knew that if I gave in, they will keep on doing it (intimidate me). (But I persevered) and now they know that (this tactic) does not work any more,” she added.

She admitted that after the 13th general election, there has been a lot of disappointment as the election was not conducted fairly, was tainted with allegations of fraud, and that people expected a change in the government.

“Change takes time. You can be disappointed, you can take a break. But the fight for change can never stop because it has already begun. We have already started the process of change,” she said.

‘Gov’t cannot treat its citizens like children’

She reiterated that Malaysians have changed and that the government cannot treat its citizens like children.

“I’m sorry but you cannot speak to us like we are brainless and stupid. You cannot insult our intelligence. You have to appeal to our brains and hearts,” she said, adding that this is a caution for the leadership from both the government and the opposition.

The former Bar Council president stressed that a clean and free election is part of being a democratic country and it is important that the power to elect its government rests in the hands of its citizens.

“When we don’t have any choices (to elect the government), the power is no longer in our (the people’s) hands. We do not have elections to keep the same party in the government forever, otherwise what is the purpose in having an election?” she said.

Indeed, it will eat away at all our other institutions, if we do not have a clean and fair election system, she said.

She also informed the crowd that she will be stepping down from the Bersih leadership but she will still be part of the organisation, adding that she has faith it will continue to thrive in the future.