Academicians tell govt: Allow the march to go on, don’t bully Bersih

Written by  Malaysia Chronicle

Academicians tell govt: Allow the march to go on, don't bully Bersih


We, the undersigned academicians, wish to express our concern at the deepening political crisis in the country. It is unfortunate that such a crisis is emerging out of a legitimate campaign, initiated by a large number of non-governmental organizations, to institute reforms through their campaign, Bersih, to ensure the conduct of truly free and fair elections in Malaysia.  Since the pursuit of such a campaign is undeniably noble, and timely, we are extremely perturbed that the government has resorted to harsh measures and use of draconian legislation to prevent the organizers from mounting a public rally.

We see the need for the leaders of Bersih to persist with dialogue with the bodies responsible for overseeing free and fair elections.  However, we also appreciate the argument by the campaign’s leaders that such an assembly is necessary since discussions have long taken place, with little progress – thus the need for the government to take serious heed of the campaign’s recommendations for free and fair elections for which there is considerable support from the country’s citizenry.

We note too that public assemblies and marches in support of causes that have attracted widespread public concern are a common feature of all democratic systems.  They are a legitimate expression of the freedom and rights of the citizens of a country.

A government that uses the laws, institutions and resources of the state to suppress or repress such activities undermines its own credibility and claim to practicing democracy.  The actions of the Government to curb this Bersih campaign will only hurt public perception of the Government’s commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution.  Further actions such as the use of the Emergency Ordinance on Bersih supporters will only result in the enhanced perception of a government that refuses to institute free and fair elections for fear of losing power, an impression we are certain the government does not want to create.

We urge the following steps to resolve the crisis and restore public confidence in the Government’s ability to govern the country fairly and justly.

  1. Release all political activists held under the Emergency Ordinance.
  2. Drop all charges against those arrested by the police for Bersih-related offences.
  3. Permit Bersih the right to a peaceful march, if the organizers decide to do so. All other public marches should be allowed but with the timing and routes agreed to in advance to prevent any untoward consequences
  4. Both Government and Opposition parties, as well as NGOs, to commit their supporters participating in marches and other public assemblies to a code of peaceful and civil conduct
  5. Assurance by the relevant authorities that serious consideration is being given to ensure free and fair elections in the country.


Associate Prof. Dr. Andrew Aeria

Associate Prof. Dr. Azmi Sharom

Dr. Christopher Chong

Associate Prof. Dr. Sharmani Gabriel

Prof. Terence Gomez

Prof. Lim Teck Ghee

Prof. Francis Loh

Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

Janet Pillai

Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu

Prof. Tan Sooi Beng

Associate Prof. Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan

Prof. Diana Wong

Assoc Prof Dr Mustafa K Anuar

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 July 2011

2 thoughts on “Academicians tell govt: Allow the march to go on, don’t bully Bersih

  1. yes and well said. does the pdrm and so called special branch know the rayat are paying their salary.instead of safeguarding the rayat they cahoot with the power to be and put fear to rayat.Iwould like to ask can i wear yellow tshirt or t shirt with berseh written on.

  2. The roads are for people to move around and what is the problem if a great substantial number of up to a million decide to do so for a purpose as noble as to demonstrate that the people had been cheated for nearly 53 years by the rigging of the General Elections to rob the nation dry.

    The spin off of the peaceful walk for an hour apart from the good exercise and solidarity exhibition of the multi racial Malaysia would the refreshment sectors would do brisk business for a few hours. Right now those making T shirts have done good business.

    Why cannot the people accept that the walk would be peaceful for the participants and others if nobody had other agenda?

    What would happen if 100,000 cars with yellow flags decide to take to the KL roads each vehicle carry five persons making it 500,000 for two hours in the demonstration of harmony, what would the Police do? Are not all vehicles permitted to use the roads?

    Or would the business people and taxpayers apply a civil disobedience not to pay their taxes for a few months as those public moneys had been abused and misused for cronyism? What would the Police do?

    Let the people experience a new beginning as it was in 2007 for Bersih.

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