“Only when elections are clean and fair, can citizens be real masters of their own destiny and expect holders of public office to act accountably and effectively.”
BERSIH started out as the Joint Action Committee for Electoral Reform, which was formed in July 2005, and the coalition’s objective was to push for a thorough reform of the electoral process in Malaysia.
The formulation of the Joint Communique
The Joint Communique was a result of an ‘Electoral Reform Workshop’ held in Kuala Lumpur in September 2006. The Joint Communique defines the long-term objectives and the immediate working goals of the coalition.
BERSIH Steering Committee
The Committee comprises members from the political parties, as well as representatives from the following NGOs: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Women’s Development Collective (WDC) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI).
The Beginning of BERSIH
BERSIH was officially launched on 23 November 2006 in the Malaysian Parliament building lobby. It was attended by poitical party leaders, civil society groups and NGOs, including PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah, DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng, DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok, PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, PAS Youth chief Salahudin Ayub, PSM Secretary-General S. Arutchelvan, Malaysian Trade Union Congress Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, WDC executive director Maria Chin Abdullah and SUARAM executive director Yap Swee Seng.
Launch of BERSIH 2.0
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (better known by its Bahasa Malaysia name “BERSIH”) issued its first joint communiqué on 23 November 2006.
At its formation, BERSIH comprised civil society organisations and political parties with the objective of campaigning for clean and fair elections in Malaysia.
BERSIH’s journey thus far has been both monumental and memorable. The public demonstration of November 2007, which saw thousands of ordinary Malaysians take to the streets in support of clean and fair elections, was a critical juncture in our nation’s electoral journey.
Almost 3 ½ years later, the aims of BERSIH continue to be relevant.
The time has now come for BERSIH to continue its crusade for clean and fair elections independent of any political party. BERSIH is thus being re-launched as BERSIH 2.0, a coalition of like minded civil society organisations unaffiliated to any political party. Our aim will be to effectively monitor both sides of the political divide.
Bersih 2.0′s calls consist of 8 points. In summary, they are:
1. Clean the electoral roll
2. Reform postal ballot
3. Use of indelible ink
4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
5. Free and fair access to media
6. Strengthen public institutions
7. Stop corruption
8. Stop dirty politics
The Steering Committee members of BERSIH 2.0 are as follows :
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Chairperson
Maria Chin Abdullah
Liau Koh Fah
Richard Y W Yeoh
Toh Kin Woon
Wong Chin Huat
Yeoh Yang Poh