9 Dec 2016
9 December 2016
Bersih 5 rally
This article is incomplete. (September 2016)
The Bersih 5 rally (also known by its tagline: Combine our energy – New Malaysia) was a peaceful democratic protest in Malaysia, supported by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), which took place on November 19, 2016. The rally was held calling for a new and cleaner electoral system in Malaysia. A Bersih convoy was also launched and targeted all parts of Malaysia to raise awareness of the current democratic problems nationwide.
Incumbent Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any wrongdoing amidst the ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal and former premier Mahathir Mohamad has come out in support of pro Bersih campaigners.
Steven Gan, an editor of an online news website Malaysiakini was charged in court under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act for the reporting of Prime Minister Najib and 1Malaysia Development Berhad, leading up to the rally.
The Red Shirts were basically formed to opposed the activities of Bersih, especially its criticisms of the government and to support the government. Many members of the Red Shirts consists of UMNO, which is the ruling party in Malaysia.
The pro government group led by Jamal Yunos indicates that the Red Shirts will confront the yellow shirt Bersih protesters during the stipulated rally on 19 November 2016. In a prelude encounter, Jamal Yunos was injured with his nose bloodied in Ampang during a filmed scuffle with the police, with Jamal shouting that he was punched by the police. He later changed his statement because he was threatened by the government, claiming he was punched by a Bersih supporter.
Bersih organised a convoy of vehicles to tour parts of Peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak to disseminate information to the public about the Bersih’s goals regarding institutional reforms and creating awareness about the 1MDB scandal. Throughout their nationwide roadshow in Peninsula Malaysia, the Bersih convoy had to endure harassment from anti-Bersih groups such as the Red Shirts and the police.
The Malaysian police, during their raid on Bersih’s office in Petaling Jaya arrested Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and secretariat Mandeep Singh for their part in organising the rally. Maria Chin was charged under the Security Offences Act 2012, with the police saying that it was to prevent riots and breach of the peace and public order. Ronnie Liu, an opposition leader of the Democratic Action Party was arrested as well on charges on attempting a riot. Anthony Loke, another member of DAP was also arrested in an investigation on his speech calling for the removal of Prime Minister Najib. S Arulchelvan, an opposition leader from Parti Sosialis Malaysia was arrested in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Another member of the Bersih committee, Hishamuddin Rais was arrested a few hours before the rally began. Bersih officials have condemned the arrest as a blatant abuse of power and harassment by the authorities.
The leader of the Red Shirts, a group opposing Bersih and their Yellow Shirt followers, Jamal Yunos was arrested a few hours before the Bersih rally began.
The counter-rally by the Red Shirts ended prematurely after they were unable to get past the police blockade to confront the Bersih rally-goers, with a majority of them dispersing at Padang Merbok.