COMMENT As the buzz surrounding Bersih grows louder, the stakes are rising. As the week began, many wrote off Bersih 3.0, suggesting that the outrage and momentum did not echo the sentiments of last July. They suggested that the playing the rally card again would backfire.
Yet, as the week unfolded, and with the DBKL's (City Hall's) response to the occupation of Dataran Merdeka and students calling for free tertiary education, the tide slowly began to turn. It was BN which appeared to be playing a bad hand.
While there was a decentralisation of who was on the frontline for the BN this time, local authorities rather than national leaders, the end result was the same - a failure to address deep-seated concerns about electoral integrity and unwillingness to accept the protest that has arisen by the failure to address these concerns.
While many remain undecided, the ground is moving. Like the earlier two rallies, Bersih 3.0 has evolved into an event that captures a broad range of concerns, from the environment, religious rights, 1Care health insurance scheme and corruption to electoral reform and free education.
The core of these issues involves a call for better governance and greater consultation with Malaysians. This has been the central nerve of Malaysian politics since 1998-1999, as leaders who are seen to be engaging in reform win power and those who don't lose support.
This was the case in 2004 and 2008. The Bersih 3.0 rally will shape whether this will be the case in 2012 (or 2013)...