Electoral watchdog Bersih is no stranger to holding rallies, with tens of thousands of Malaysians having heeded its clarion call and taken to the streets in the past.
But the movement is not without sceptics and critics, the latter being ruling politicians and those aligned to them, who never fail to recycle the same script of Bersih wanting to topple the government through undemocratic means and that it is a marionette of the opposition.
The critics, on the other hand, remain pessimistic as to what the rallies can achieve and therefore refrain from participating, claiming that since no significant change would come about in the aftermath, there is no need to risk arrest or be subject to tear gas and chemical-laced water that potentially wait Bersih participants.
However, Bersih's former co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan disagrees with both, arguing that since its inception, the movement has been instrumental in shaping the mindset of Malaysians.
"Bersih has lifted the awareness of Malaysians to what our democracy ought to be. And what it is not.
"It has done advocacy and training so that people can play their part as voters whether on election day or when the redelineation process is on," she told Malaysiakini.
Contrary to what sceptics may believe, Ambiga is of the opinion that Bersih has already stamped its mark.
"Bersih has already achieved much by giving people who are frustrated with the leadership a chance to speak loudly with one voice.
"A voice loud enough that it cannot be ignored. If ignored, the price to pay will be heavy," she cautioned.
Leaders dishing garbage
Ambiga said since the leaders appear incapable of listening to reason and instead "dish out utter garbage to us", it is time for them to hear the rakyat express their dissatisfaction collectively.
"There is a renewed sense of purpose for the people after Bersih 4 was announced. In short, Bersih gives hope.
"And look at all those who were against it before who now support it. That is change happening right before us," she pointed out.
Come this weekend, Kuala Lumpur will once again be the epicentre for another Bersih rally, which among others, calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
The authorities have declared the rally illegal, but similar proclamations in the past had failed to prevent a sea of yellow flooding the major arteries of the capital.
Ambiga’s successor Maria Chin Abdullah last week challenged Najib to allow the rally to proceed without hindrance to gauge if the public still supported him or otherwise.
In other words, the Bersih 4 rally could be interpreted as a fresh mandate for the embattled prime minister to continue at the helm or a vote of no confidence against him.
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