AUG 6 — It is hard to believe it has been four years since July 9, 2011. It was the day that forever changed how I look at Malaysia and my place in it.
You see, prior to that, the only thing that interested me was finding a country to migrate to. I even had a 10 years plan to migrate to North America. Even though I did keep track of what was going on in the country, I really did not care much about it.
Nevertheless, something inside me shifted on July 8, 2011. Perhaps it was Ibrahim Ali who asked Chinese to “stay home and keep plenty of rice”, perhaps it was all the authoritarian tactics to scare everyone off... I decided to wake up early that day and make my way to the front of Tung Shin Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. What I experienced that day changed me, I started asking myself what I can do for my country. Some say it was the side effect of the tear gas, but we will never know.
Since that day, I have decided to stand up and make a difference. About a week after Bersih 2, I decided to get involved in analysing the electoral roll. I started to volunteer in activist groups and people who were looking into the problems with the Malaysian electoral roll.
What I found out shocked me even more. Not only was our electoral roll full of problems, fraud was literally taking place on a regular basis. Problems ranging from Sabah RCI ICs being on the electoral roll to people who had been living overseas being registered as voters without their knowledge were discovered in the small subset of samples I was analysing.
Since then, I have decided to get involved a little more; I participated in GE13 as part of a team of PACABA. I even attempted to analyse the data in the aftermath of the GE13. I came to the conclusion that the rot in our system is so profound that the Opposition had no chance of winning in any election at the federal level any time soon.
This is because the unfair delineation of boundaries will also play to the advantage of anyone in power. The rot in our institutions also cause myriad economic and social problems that can never be fixed unless we have a government that is accountable for its action.
I have also come to the conclusion that our parliament is little more than a rubber stamp. Important issues can never be discussed in a civilized manner, if they are discussed at all. Laws are being passed without any real or meaningful debate.
So, all these beg the questions, what can we do? Well, I intend to go to Bersih 4. Not because I am a rally junkie but because I believe in what Bersih highlighted -- without real institutional reform, it really doesn’t matter who is in power. For all we know, we will be replacing one PM with another only to end up with the same problem.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The system of government in our country concentrates too much of power in the hands of the executive branch. To fix this is not about who wins the next general election but it is about having a government that will have to be accountable to the people.
Since the announcement on Bersih 4.0, different kinds of voices have emerged. Some are concerned about the possibility of ethnic riots in the aftermath of the Low Yat Plaza incident. Many have concerns about becoming political tools of the Opposition. A few people even tried to tag their pet political ideology to the Bersih bandwagon. Some went as far as saying the rally makes no sense because it will ultimately achieve nothing.
Many of these concerns are familiar; in fact, some of these objections for Bersih 4.0 were the same for Bersih 2.0 and 3.0. Ultimately, Bersih 4.0 is about saving our country from the rot, it is about reforming the institutions of this country, without it the chaos will continue, and it will probably get worse.
Bersih 4.0 is not about treating the symptom but treating the disease. Therefore, it is not about overthrowing the government, but about making changes to the rules of the game, so that whichever government comes to power next will have to be clean, and accountable. That is the only road to salvation for Malaysia.
And that’s why I will go for Bersih 4.0. Talks won’t change our future. Walks may.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.