10 January 2008
The Coalition for Clean and Free Elections (BERSIH) wishes all Muslims a free and happy new year as today is the first day of Muharram, the month denoting the beginning of the Islamic Lunar Calendar of the year 1429. As we have made the resolution to advance democracy when we celebrate the Gregorian New Year, BERSIH calls upon all Malaysians to join force in celebrating the Hijrah New Year, to usher Malaysia to a higher plane in democracy and to enhance the freedom, rights and well-beings of all Malaysians.
BERSIH sees the celebration of the Awal Muharram, much like that of Gregorian New Year, Chinese New Year, Hindu New Year and other religious and cultural festivals in Malaysia as the strength of multiculturalism and blessing to this beautiful land. The commonality of the Islamic, Chinese and Hindu calendars, which all basically follow the movement of the moon, shows us how close our diverse cultures are than many have imagined.
Just like the Gregorian New Year, Awal Muharram offers us an opportunity to reflect and resolve for new achievements. Awal Muharram has great significance in Islamic calendar because 1429 years ago, or in approximately 623 CE, the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessing be upon him) with his companions undertook the momentous journey of ‘Hijrah’ or ‘Migration’ from the oppression of the Meccan society to the safe abode of the Medinan society.
As Hijrah means to strive against vices, corruption and oppression, a ‘migration’ from a state of being subjugated and denied of one’s rights, honour and liberty to attaining peace and freedom, all of us Malaysians especially Muslim can take lessons from great Hijrah of the Prophet (PBUH).
Malaysia is now in dire need of a Hijrah to migrate to a higher plane where true democracy prevails and all Malaysians, regardless of backgrounds and creeds, feel included and treasured.
Happiness, prosperity, peace and safety can be reality only when we have free and fair elections. When the governments and politicians can win elections no matter what, they pay no price for corruptions, cronyism, injustice, incompetence, discriminations, violation of human rights and pollution of the environment.
The agenda of our Hijrah to reinstate true democracy in 2008 must include amongst others a true clean-up of electoral rolls; employment of indelible inks; abolition of postal voting for military and police personnel; free and fair access to media; a campaign period of at least 21 days and administrative neutrality; judiciary reform; the abolition of ISA; and the freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
As the ‘new moon’ implies the emergence from darkness to ever increasing brightness and light, under the soft luminescence of the moonlight or of justice and freedom, may we Malaysians too bid farewell to the darkness of electoral frauds, corruption, injustice and incompetence. BERSIH also wishes freedom to all prisoners of consciences detained under ISA and all other citizens suffering political witch hunt.
BERSIH Steering Committee
1st Muharram 1429H.
BERSIH: Let’s All Strike for a Hijrah for a True Democracy!