(1) Yellow Mania Festival
In January 2016, BERSIH kicked start the year by organizing the Yellow Mania festival to reach out to citizens and raise awareness on democratic reforms.
As a form of creative activism, the Yellow Mania was filled with various fun and interesting programmes. The programmes include a photo exhibition, colouring contest for children, forums, stand-up comedy, and music gigs.
The Yellow Mania festival is part of BERSIH’s ongoing programmes to empower citizens about democracy and rights.
[Photo: Prize giving ceremony during the colouring contest for children, one of the many fun-filled activities organized during the Yellow Mania Festival]
(2) Re-delineation of Electoral Boundaries
The re-delineation process for Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia will likely begin in the second half of 2016.
Malapportionment and gerrymandering are still the two key issues in the re-delineation of electoral boundaries. If left uncheck, they will continue to unfairly affects the results of elections.
BERSIH have made two working visits to Sabah in January and February 2016. We are briefing and training local citizens across Sabah about the issue. Under the constitution, voters can file an objection if they disagree with the new proposed boundaries.
The local groups that BERSIH met are now ready to file objections if the re-delineation is done unfairly and not in accordance with the constitution.
For more information about re-delineation, visit www.dart.bersih.org
[Photo: BERSIH team conducting re-delineation training for local groups in Sabah. To date, the team has conducted met with groups in ten key areas: Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Kota Marudu, Beaufort, Kudat, Keningau, Tawau, Sandakan, Telupid, and Sandakan]
(3) PEMANTAU Sarawak
The Sarawak State Elections will be held very soon. In the past few months, BERSIH is working closely with local NGOs in Sarawak to set up the PEMANTAU team to monitor the upcoming state election.
PEMANTAU refers to the monitoring of elections. It is an important process to ensure that the Sarawak state election is carried out in a fair and clean manner.
Through monitoring, citizens become observers that prevent and whistle blow on fraud or electoral offences such as bribery, misuse of power, and disturbance towards the electoral process.
PEMANTAU Sarawak has identified five key DUNs to monitor, i.e.: Bawang Assan, Telang Usan, Senadin, Tasik Biru, and Batu Kitang.
[Photo: BERSIH team conducting a PEMANTAU training session in Miri with voters from the Telang Usan/Baram Area. To date, PEMANTAU Sarawak has trained over 50 observers for the campaign]
(4) BERSIH Banned from Entering Sarawak
BERSIH secretariat manager, Mandeep Singh, found out that he has been banned from entering Sarawak by the Chief Minister. Mandeep was on a working visit to Sarawak in February to prepare for the BERSIH election monitoring project.
Besides Mandeep, other BERSIH leaders and activists have also been previously banned from entering Sarawak. They include: Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (former Co-chairperson), and Wong Ching Huat (resource person and former steering committee member).
The ban by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem was shocking because he had agreed in December 2015 to meet with BERSIH to discuss about the Sarawak state elections and absentee voting. However, the meeting did not materialised although BERSIH has followed up multiple times.
Nevertheless, BERSIH will not be hindered by the restrictions. We remain committed in working together with local Sarawakian NGOs and citizens to ensure that the upcoming state elections is free and fair.
(5) Bersih Boot Camp
BERSIH conducted two training camps in Penang and Johor. The objective of the BERSIH Boot Camp is to empower citizens and BERSIH supporters into activists who can play a role in the agenda for reform.
This is part of our long term plan for to organize BERSIH supporters into a strong and effective peoples’ movement.
We are very encouraged that many have responded positively and displayed great spirit and enthusiasm.
The next BERSIH Boot Camp will be in in Perak on 6 to 8 May 2016. Those who are interested to attend can register at: www.bersih.org/bootcamp
[Photo: A mock parliamentary debate session during the BERSIH Boot Camp. Participants also undergo sessions on key topics such as democracy, constitution, and mobilization]
(6) Charged in Court for Organizing BERSIH4 Rally
Maria Chin (BERSIH Chairperson) and Jannie Lasimbang (former BERSIH Vice-Chairperson for Sabah) are currently facing charges in court under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. These charges were in relation to the organizing of the BERSIH4 rally in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in August last year.
They were charged under Section 9(5) for not giving a 10-days’ notice to the police. Our legal team are seeking to strike out the charge on grounds that there was no offence committed when the rally was held on 29 & 30 August 2015.
This is because the Court of Appeal had declared Section 9(5) unconstitutional in the Nik Nazmi’s case. The case of Yuneswaran which ruled otherwise came much later after the rally.
BERSIH maintains that these charges are a fear tactic to curtail the freedom of expression and assembly of citizens. We reiterate the people’s will and commitment towards defending our rights and democracy in Malaysia
[Photo: Jannie Lasimbang, former BERSIH Vice-Chairperson for Sabah during the BERSIH4 rally in Kota Kinabalu. Jannie and Maria are being charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for organizing the BERSIH4 rally]
(7) BERSIH4 T-shirts Now a Symbol of Our Rights, Freedom, and Expression
BERSIH challenged the banning of the BERSIH4 yellow tshirt by the Home Minister last year during the rally.
Unfortunately, the Selangor High Court ruled on 19 February 2016 that the Home Minister acted within his powers to safeguard the public order, security, and peace by banning the tshirts.
The Bersih T-shirt may sound trivial, but it more than just a piece of cloth. The T-shirt represents our rights, freedom, and expression. We urge Malaysians to continue wearing the T-shirt with a clear conscience in affirmation of our rights.
BERSIH will take the necessary steps to appeal the court’s decision.
[Photo: Bersih Steering Committee and Endorsing NGOs during a press conference on the BERSIH4 rally. The Home Ministry has banned the BERSIH4 T-shirts and other publication with the word “BERSIH4” because it is deemed as a “threat” towards public security]