KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 declared today its fourth and biggest rally a success, claiming that as many as 500,000 people had participated in the two-day event that took place peacefully here at the heart of Malaysia’s capital city.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said Bersih 4 was a “historic” achievement that proved a mass protest does not necessarily have to end in violence.
“It is our greatest achievement...a very historic event.
“Let it be documented that the event was very peaceful and that despite the number of crowd we dispersed exactly at the stroke of midnight,” Chin told a press conference here.
Chin said the massive turnout was also proof that Malaysians backed Bersih 2.0’s demands for institutional reform.
She said it was clear that Malaysians are demanding for change, with so many openly ignoring the Home Ministry’s ban on wearing the movement’s yellow T-shirts.
“The people’s presence in Kuala Lumpur, which we estimate at about 500,000 over the span of 34 hours is a loud and clear show of support of our demands.
“The rakyat has overcome fear and intimidation, and has proven that the call for institutional reform crosses every line of race and religion,” she said.
Despite Bersih 2.0’s assertions, deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said police estimated the crowd to have reached some 50,000 and not half a million people as Chin claimed.
The 34-hour long Bersih 4 rally saw tens of thousands gather at the fringes of Dataran Merdeka throughout the weekend while hundreds remained to sleep on the streets on Saturday night.
The rally ended peacefully despite previous threats by Putrajaya of a crackdown after declaring the rally and its paraphernalia illegal.
Chin thanked everyone including the police for making the event a success, but pointed out that she expected the police to do more to facilitate rally.
But the Bersih 2.0 chairman said they welcomed the assistance given and hoped they would do the same in future rallies.