We read the news on PERKASA’s Ibrahim Ali claims to defend peace and stopping BERSIH 2.0 coalition from holding a demonstration on July 9 with ire and vexation. The inane behavior of burning and stomping on pictures of BERSIH Chairperson Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan was extremely offensive and disparaging. Furthermore to address her as “the Hindu woman” is plainly rude and clearly depicted the insolent attitude of PERKASA’s President himself.
We wish to state in a clear and perspicuous voice that the planned demonstration is being spearheaded by civil-societies and not at any terms under the decree of any political parties. The demands were clearly spelt out and that we wished for a free and fair election and for a true liberal democracy. For years we have seen vote rigging and gerrymandering, not to say about the biased media coverage that silenced any critics of the ruling party. There has never been an equal playground and we are tired of seeing all sorts of political harassments. Not to mention of the obnoxious corruptions so prevalent as if it is a norm in our society.
This is the time for change, and let BERSIH 2.0 be the catalyst of change. The threat by PERKASA’s President that anything can happen on that day and that the Chinese community will have to stock up on food will not deter our spirit to march for democracy. The recently concluded election in Sarawak has shown that nothing has been done by the Election Commission to ensure a free and fair election as promised.
We have decided that the only way to express our dissatisfaction with the system is to hold a peaceful demonstration. The right to assemble is a fundamental right enshrined in the Federal Constitution Article 10, Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (Article 20) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (Article 21).
To our Muslim brothers who wish to remain impartial and unmoved by the high-handed acts of contempt for democratic principles, we would like to remind them that their silence will embolden the corrupt despots and that no change will be seen if we just pray for change without any action on our part. “Verily, God does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” [13:11]
If democracy is about nurturing a “spirit of dissent,” then it has indeed been part and parcel of Muslim cultural history. The great founding jurists of the major schools of law in Islam adamantly protested against their own school being adopted as the state canon of their time. Many were imprisoned as a result of their criticisms against rulers of their time. We are the inheritors of this tradition, which provides today’s Muslims with a storehouse of democratic ideas.
The despotic regime must be made to understand that enough is enough. Come July 9, be it rain or shine, we will be there, marching for a greater freedom and democracy.
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
Chairman and Director, Islamic Renaissance Front [IRF]
Member of BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee