Press Release from Bersih 2.0
Dated: 31st December 2019
EULOGY TO FRIENDS OF BERSIH 2.0 WHO DEPARTED IN 2019
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) wishes to honour the memory of several people who have passed away in 2019 but whose contributions to our movement either as leaders, advocate or as volunteers over the years will always be remembered. Bersih is what it is today because of the countless and selfless Malaysians like them who in their own way did their part for free and fair elections and for a more democratic nation. They may have departed but we are still being inspired by the legacy of their service to us.
- ONG LAI MUN, aged 38
Lai Mun served as Bersih 2.0’s Vice-Chairperson for Southern Peninsula from 2015-2018 and played a key role in putting together our web-based election monitoring reporting platform for our Pemantau programme during the last general election. As one of the co-founders of ENGAGE, an NGO active in electoral and human rights issues, she also played a significant role in organising the Freedom Film Festival for Johor and thanks to her leadership, there is an active team that not only organises the screening of human rights film in Johor Bahru and Muar, but also bring these films into the schools. Lai Mun was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer at the end of 2017 and she put up a valiant fight against the disease till the very end and left us on 10th November 2019. Her positive “can-do” and encouraging attitude will be sorely missed by all who have worked with her. Lai Mun was an electrical engineer by profession and specialised in lightning protection for buildings.
- POW KIEW AN, aged 45
Determined to join the Bersih 2 rally in 2011 but faced with possible police violence and ethnic riots, Kiew An wrote a moving farewell letter to his beloved wife and young daughter, who was too young to understand what democracy and freedom is, that he felt the call of duty to stand up for a better country. He also made financial arrangement to ensure that his family would be provided for should anything untoward happen to him. He was a key leader in the Sunflower Electoral EDucation (SEED) movement and a warm supporter of Mama Bersih, both championing electoral reform. In the run up to GE13, he mobilised resources for an alternative newsletter promoting environmental protection, human rights and democracy, Sunflower Paper, to be printed and circulated nationwide to break media control by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). Beyond Bersih-related works, Kiew An had been raising funds and mobilising supports for activists who were suppressed by the system, including an activist in Kelantan who was persecuted for challenging police’s abuse of power and 13 PAS activists who were charged and jailed for blocking a royal car in protest of the 2009 Perak crisis. Sadly, we lost him on 18th October 2019, to heart attack. Kiew An left behind his wife Careen and three lovely daughters.
- ANG HEAN LENG, aged 41.
Hean Leng from was part of a pro-bono team of lawyers who came forward to defend the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee when the Police filed a civil suit against Bersih 2.0 claiming RM110,543 for loss and damages suffered to police vehicles during the Bersih 3 rally in 2012. Thanks to the lawyer team’s eloquent and persuasive argument, the Police’s claim was thrown out at the High Court, Appeal Court and Federal Court. Hean Leng personally represented Bersih’s Resource Person Dr Wong Chin Huat who filed a counter-claim for physical assault while in police custody during the Bersih 3 rally. Again, the Court found in favour of Wong and he was awarded RM15,000 in damages and RM30,000 cost. In 2017, when Bersih 2.0 leaders were called in for investigation by the Police for an unfounded allegation of receiving funding from George Soros, the lawyer from of Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill again acted as Wong’s counsel. Besides supporting civil society causes, Hean Leng also lectured part-time on Journalism and the Law and Malaysian Studies at Monash University Malaysia in 2010-5 and inspired many students there. Sadly we lost him to lung cancer on 22nd December 2019.
- MOHD KHAIRUL IKMAL ARIS, aged 23.
Khairul Ikmal or as he was often called, Kimal or Panjang, was a young activist based in his home state of Sabah. Together with his friends, he fought for democracy, freedom and free and fair elections. Kimal actively volunteered himself during Bersih 5 in 2016, organising motorbikers to join the Bersih Convoy from Sandakan area. He was also one of the security volunteers when the rally was held at Taman Rimba Ujana Kota Kinabalu. His enthusiasm and spirit will be sorely missed. Kimal drowned while swimming in a river at Mandalipau, Papar, Sabah on 6th October 2019.
Bersih 2.0 is indebted to these fine Malaysians, who loved this country to the point that they were prepared to suffer inconvenience, risk the loss of their freedom, income and even reputation to fight for a better Malaysia. Indeed, what is Bersih 2.0 if not for the thousands of Malaysians like Lai Mun, Kiew An, Hean Leng and Kimal, who willingly and often anonymously gave their time, resources and themselves to serve as volunteers in our committees, rallies and campaigns over the years? Thanks to these and others not recorded, who have departed, we saw a historic change of government in 2018. The work of electoral reform is far from over and we will continue to push for the strengthening of our electoral and democratic institutions in memory of our friends who have departed all too soon.
Satukan Tenaga, Malaysia Baru!
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0