Malaysiakini News

How Maria's Sosma detention saved Bersih 5

Hazlan Zakaria  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT As some have said, Bersih 5 was a flop in many ways, most visibly by the turnout which was considerably smaller than the 100,000-strong touted.

By Malaysiakini's own reckoning, 40,000 was on the ground that day, though police said there were only 15,000, and some other media estimated even fewer than that.

The fatigue of strenuous politicising had made things difficult perhaps as Bersih, more and more, seemed at times deviated from its purely non-partisan path, in particular the appearance on the podium by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a polarising figure.

This probably turned off quite a few of those who once ardently stood in the NGO’s corner. Though in spirit perhaps, they still hold the thumbs up.

And as the experiment with the TangkapMO1 rally showed, interest from the public was at its lowest ebb. Which made large-scale demonstrations something difficult to pull off quite well.

But symbolically, it was a victory of sorts for bridging the racial divide – while Bersih 4 was labelled as being dominated by the Chinese minority, this time around it was less marked.

Though I personally believe, in Malaysia at least, to mobilise 40,000 demonstrators, is a success itself.

But all that aside, Bersih 5 would have not made the splash it did and given the sustained media coverage worldwide had Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah not been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma)...

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