PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0’s independence has been questioned by social activists, in the wake of chairman Maria Chin Abdullah’s announcement that she will contest in the coming general election under the Pakatan Harapan banner.
Political columnist Hafidz Baharom said although she offered to contest as an independent under the Pakatan banner, the perception is “definitely” that Bersih is no longer squeaky clean.
“This is not the first time someone from the non-governmental sector joined politics,” Hafidz said.
He was referring to the late Irene Fernandez, the former Tenaganita director who in 1999 became a candidate for the Subang parliamentary seat under PKR.
“However, Tenaganita did not take an anti-government stance as Bersih has been doing since last year – asking to topple a sitting prime minister,” he said.
Hafidz, a vocal supporter of #UndiRosak, said Maria’s foray into politics showed that Bersih’s vehement opposition to the campaign was politically motivated.
“I’m sure many never expected Bersih to be independent, but to deny and ridicule the democratic rights of voters to protest through #UndiRosak was uncalled for,” he said.
Hafidz added that Bersih stands to lose even more supporters from the public, especially among youths who are looking at politics with cynicism.
Moderation activist Mohamed Tawfik Ismail was quoted as saying that Maria’s move to join the opposition grouping confirmed Barisan Nasional’s suspicions that Bersih was not independent.
“It’s expected. It only confirms Barisan’s view that Bersih is led and hijacked by the Opposition,” he told an online portal.
Tawfik also questioned if Bersih 2.0 would still have the people’s support as Pakatan is led by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“What’s the future of Bersih? When it began, it rallied a broad spectrum of people.
“Now, instead of reforming the government, its leader has gone to the side of the man who inspired Bersih’s establishment – Dr Mahathir,” he told the portal.
Maria had said she would resign as Bersih 2.0 chairman and contest in the coming election, offering herself as an independent candidate to Pakatan Harapan.
According to sources, she is slated to run in Petaling Jaya Selatan, where incumbent Hee Loy Sian has served two terms under the PKR banner.
Former Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is also said to be a potential candidate to take on MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam in Segamat.