Nov 10, 07
Several protesters from the 40,000-strong crowd tell Malaysiakini why they took part in the rally despite dire warnings of a crackdown from the authorities. Below are their comments:
Harleena Kaur, lawyer observing for the Bar Council
The government should take note of the message conveyed today. It is very clear what the people want – clean and free elections in order to elect a government that is fair and just.
The way this rally was organised, I think it was just fabulous. There was very good security, and PAS’ Unit Amal was very disciplined and effective in maintaining order.
Peter Battle, chambering student observing for the Bar Council
This is a well-organised assembly. Both sides are restrained and although we have a few incidents, the assembly has met its objective.
Brian Yap, writer, from Kuala Lumpur
It was a success because people from all over the country came and decided to show their displeasure on the state of our electoral system today.
It’s not that we are challenging the prime minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) like what he said – we just want a system that will allow us to make informed choices and elect the best people to lead the nation.
Sulaiman Abdullah, from Teluk Intan, Perak
The Bersih rally is beneficial to the people as it will inculcate awareness among them that the country is in need of electoral reforms and that the leaders of this country have been cheating the people.
I do not understand why the police are behaving in such a way – using force against peaceful protesters. The leaders claimed that this is a democratic country but what kind of democracy are they talking about if they prohibit people from exercising their constitutional rights.
Kamariah Mohd Noor from Ipoh, Perak
This (rally) is a good thing. What we are demanding is noble and just. If we do not take action now, I don’t know what will happen to the country in the future. The system is in need of a change and Insya Allah (God’s willing), perhaps this event would be the first step towards it.
As for the police, I believe they were merely executing their duty as instructed by their superiors. But God is almighty and if the police is honest in safeguarding the peace and security of this country, then good but if not, God will punish them.
Salleh Mat Amin from Kemaman, Terengganu
I believe this is a historic event for the people of this country because it is attended by tens of thousands of people coming from various backgrounds. I also believe that this is the first step towards restoring the democracy in this country, which is currently in tatters.
I am of the view that the police acted excessively against the peaceful protesters just as we saw in Masjid Jamek (where the police discharged tear gas canisters and fired water cannons). I think they should be more ‘people friendly’ and not act ruthlessly against a peaceful crowd.
Abdul Murad Daud, pensioner, from Selangor
I agree there is a need for this event. One big issue that remains is the corruption by those in government service. Politicians come and go and are elected every few years, but civil servants are there to stay.
Today is a show of our concern in the direction this country is heading. We also showed that we are not out here to create chaos as we have been accused of.
What we did here today is not for us nor even for our children. It’s for our grandchildren and the generations to come.
Harizal Hashim, self-employed, from Penang
I am proud of Malaysians today. We have proven to the government and the police today that we are a mature citizenry and do not indulge in disturbance and chaos as they had alleged. We came in peace.
'We come in peace, we leave in peace'