More than a thousand rally in Melbourne for Bersih 3.0

MORE than a thousand Malaysians took to Federation Square in Melbourne to rally for free and fair elections back home. Sumisha Naidu reports.

A Malaysian movement for free and fair elections, Bersih 3.0, brought more than a thousand ordinary citizens, politicians and activists to Melbourne’s Federation Square this afternoon.

The Melbourne rally was the largest of 85 rallies being held across the globe in a show of solidarity for the estimated 75,000 Malaysians making their way through Kuala Lumpur for a sit-down protest.

More than a thousand rally in Melbourne for Bersih 3.0. Photo: Samuel Eng

Reports say the Malaysian protesters are currently battling teargas and riot squads but in Melbourne, the rallies were a peaceful affair.

The protesters called for

  • Malaysia’s Electoral Commission to resign
  • International observers at the next elections, and the
  • Cleaning up of the electoral process.

This was in addition to the seven demands called for at the previous Bersih 2.0 rally:

  • A clean electoral roll
  • Reformed postal ballots
  • A minimum of 21 days for campaigning
  • Free and fair media access
  • Strengthened public institutions
  • A stop to corruption, and
  • An end to “dirty politics”.

Photo: Samuel Eng.

More Photos on our Facebook page.

Bersih 3.0’s Melbourne co-ordinator, Gokul Radhakrishnan said the global Bersih movement can play an important role in bringing electoral reform to Malaysia.

“The Bersih contingent worldwide can put a lot of pressure on the government of Malaysia to implement changes about things like getting international observers,” he said.

Melbourne's Bersih 3.0 rally organiser Gokul Radhakrishan. Photo: Samuel Eng

Melbourne’s Bersih 3.0 rally organiser Gokul Radhakrishan. Photo: Samuel Eng

Bersih’s steering committee co-chairman Ambiga Sreenevasen sent a message of support for the solidarity rallies being held across the globe.

“Though we may not be legally or politically powerful, we are morally formidable because we are united in a righteous cause,” she said in a written statement read out at the Melbourne event.

The demonstration also had a host of speakers from both the movement and Australian political parties such as the Greens, the Labor Party and the Socialist Alternative.

“In Australia we have a very good electoral process and Malaysia deserves the same,” Colleen Hardin from the Greens said.

Labor Clayton MP Hong Lim, also addressed the crowd, expressing his support for the movement.

He told Meld Magazine the Australian Labor Party was aware of Bersih and several members had expressed interest in attending the rally but were unable to make it.

Clayton’s Labor MP Hong Lim addressing the rally. Photo: Samuel Eng

More Photos on our Facebook page.

One of Australia’s electoral observers to East Timor, Professor Damien Kingsbury from Deakin University, was unable to attend the rally but sent a written statement.

“If the government of Malaysia believes that its electoral process will be free and fair, according to international standards, we would welcome being invited to come to Malaysia as independent electoral observers,” he said.

Malaysia’s Consul-General to Melbourne Dr Mohamed Rameez Yahaya, who was observing the rally, told Meld  some speakers at the event had not been non-partisan.

“I want them to be non-partisan, that’s all,” he said.

“I’m not saying all of Bersih are like that. I can see some of (the participants) are acting like hooligans, some of them are acting very, very matured and that’s what it’s supposed to be.”


Melbourne’s Bersih 3.0 coordinator Mr Radhakrishnan disagreed with the Consul-General’s view of the rally being biased.

“It is entirely non-partisan – that is one of the fundamental things of Bersih,” he said.

Photo: Samuel Eng

The Consul-General was seen being hassled by two protesters to address the rally after he began yelling out responses to the speeches from the sidelines.

The envoy declined their request but said he should be allowed to comment in the name of free speech.

In Malaysia, the Bersih movement has come into conflict with the government over their plans to have a sit in protest at historically-significant Merdeka or “Independence” Square.

Prime Minister Najib Razak told Bernama the square was an unsuitable venue for public protests but alternative venues had been offered.

Reports also say police served a court order to protest organisers banning the public from gathering near the venue.

“Any gathering at Dataran Merdeka and its adjoining land is prohibited, and the public is given warning not to turn up, attend or take part in any gathering from April 28 till May 1,” it said.

Malaysian government scholarship-holders were also warned against participating in “any activities that are detrimental to the stakes of the government” days before the rally, in accordance with the Federal Scholarship Agreement.


There are 35 comments

  1. Dr rameez

    I did not say that the speakers acting as hooligans, but I was referring to the participants of the demonstration that were hasling me from my freedom to say the truth about facts and figure. As they too can say or yell whatever they want when speakers talk why cant I do the same. Since bersih is about non partisanship we should simply follow that principle. I also said that not all speakers are partisan there are some who are matured and non partisan. I sincerely hope we don’t put words into somebody mouth. So please my referring of holigans was to a few participants of the demonstration who were harassing me and not the speakers. Please correct this fact and sincerely hope the matter ends here. Tq

  2. Changeagent

    Reporter: What is your official stance on this rally then?
    Dr. Rameez: That you know what my official stance is anyway. You just know my official stance anyway. You see, “official” already you know what it is.
    2 guys at the back: Hahaha… good one-lah boss.

    “Official” already you know what it is. Is this the kind of broken English we expect to hear from Malaysia’s Consul-General to Melbourne? What an embarassment to our country. Can’t he at least attempt to answer the question intellectually?

  3. Dr rameez

    Please as I had informed the reporter herself that me being there and accepted to be interviewed shows a display of courage. I just want to correct the fact and hope that the event should be one that promote non-partisanship. The fact I reiterated what official meant can be understood. As the consul general people will already know what my official stance is, I will always defend my country, the government and the public. I can’t say more if the question itself is general. I hope also as it is stated when we leave comments don’t attack others. It is not nice and clean. If we want to have a better discourse as Dato ambiga herself said during her trip to Melbourne last year we should respect other people’s feeling, saying and even answers. There is no right or wrong answer!

  4. mackmalaysia

    First, if CG had answered the question intellectually,i bet it would still be monopolized by people whom already have the intention to do so…or his/her job is monopolizing facts!
    Second, it happened the speakers were reading from the prepared text, if they didn’t, i am very sure many more broken with grammatical errors that we would hear..ielts 8 points didn’t ensure they could speak english superbly!
    Anyway, it’s 1Malaysia language…manglish, chinglish, indlish, ibanilish, jawalish, kelatelish…etc they are all acceptable languages by Malaysians!

  5. ohmy

    Really? commenting on English Language rather than the real definition besides it? what a shame.

    He is a one of the most respected malaysian government officials in Australia where he knows how to react based on facts and not just assumptions. kudos to the CG.

  6. Changeagent

    Wow, what a show of courage indeed. Just tell me when you want me to start applauding you. If the government’s official stance is not to implement nor endorse Bersih’s 8-point requests for electoral reforms, does that mean you are also personally against clean and fair elections? Whatever your stance, spell it out simply and clearly for all to understand. Don’t hide behind the “official” stance mumbo-jumbo to defend “my country, the government and the public”. What does this all mean anyway? I will continue to stand by what I said about your lack of communication skills. Please don’t see this as a personal attack. Think of it as a constructive criticism. After all, this is Australia. I am entitled to my free speech rights, and you have also chosen to place yourself in the public spotlight. All is fair game, mate.

  7. Bersih Passerby

    Dr. Rameez, this is not a personal attack but I overheard the interview that you said you did mentioned somewhere along these lines that “I should call the police and get the people who hassled me hung.”

    I’m sure Sumisha has the audio of the interview and we would all love to listen to what was transpired behind the interview. After all, this is Australia and not Malaysia (we cannot simply erased the audio that easily as and when we like).

    Did you alter your words by any chance?

  8. mackmalaysia

    i think how much CG or other people who knows, he is doing an excellent job here in melbourne, defended the CG, changeagent will say he is just giving a constructive criticism.. no point to argue more since if we read and browse through what happened during the bersih rally here in melbourne there are many speakers who supported bersih like the australia mp in clayton who spoke more of a terrible english..why no one commented, not even changeagent, because basically anyone who supports bersih they are clean and don’t make errors. thus the word no worries mate apply only to certain quarter only in Australia..what a democracy. so if you say you are clean please don’t just focus on someone who takes stand not to voice out his personal stance but more of official stance.. the question posed was not on his personal stance. probably you have not met the CG before like u meet others..i can vouch he is always there for us and will always support anything which is for the better of malaysia and malaysian. the person hiding in the mask as appeared in the meld magazine spoke in a language that many of us educated phd students don’t understand at all…. “Bersih diri kamu dahulu, sebelum Bersih Malaysia”

  9. K

    If you choose to leave Malaysia and taken up your citizenship else where, or when you never practice your rights to participate in elections, you do not have the rights to do whatever rally outside Malaysia, come back to Malaysia if you want to protect your rights, or you leave everything and enjoy your life else where and keep quiet.

  10. Mr Sam

    Well, I believe that what we are discussing here illuminates our love and patriotism to Malaysia. However, as government ‘officials’ some have to strictly adhered to the government policies… just like any of us working with a boss…we can’t break or bend the rules as we like… Having said that, sometimes the public sees the govt officials as a ‘problem’…, incompetent, pro govt, making public life difficult (as such issue with the police back home)… in reality they are just the ‘servant’ to the govt …which means they work for the govt which are selected by the people to represent them. Just because we don’t like the government doesn’t mean we go around attacking trivial matters like ‘spoken English’ of govt servants and so on. Who actually speaks using ‘correct and proper ‘ English in the first place…not even Aussie themselves mate. So chill out…and everyone deserves to his or her opinion in our effort making Malaysia a better country.

  11. Tony Liew

    First of all thank you to meldmegazine for highlighting the Rally and I do believe and all of us know that media plays the ultimate role in disseminating crucial VALID and UNBIASED information through out the world to cater readers’ information needs and knowledge to digest.

    The organizer has rights to express their views, in one perspective it can be considered as a good efforts for all of us to not feeling cozy in our comfort zone. In this situation, I considered most of the participants agreed with the organizer about rights to express the right perspectives. If we look at the foundation of Human Rights, the platform itself also is not strong enough in the context of Critical Discourse Analysis. My point of view, people always claiming their rights but their forget about their responsibility. Individual Rights is derived from the inner forces that are called needs, in which escalate from time to time. Right is tie together with responsibility, in which most of the people overlooked. Nowadays people are tendency to abuse the definition of Rights. In this rally I found that the highlight about the responsibility as a citizenship to a sovereign nation is absent and lack of facts.

  12. S

    I didn’t think he said the word ‘hung’ in the first place … in such a noisy place, how did you overheard such word …hmmm…I wonder. But he did say I will call the police for those who hassled me…(something like that)…I am sure I didn’t quite get those allegation. But perhaps as you said… if we can roll back the interview recording would be good…

  13. SureshVick

    to the bypasser i am sure you may be one of the hassler. i was there and also heard what cg said. he meant for the police to be called and stop the harassment done by the two protesters. you know what they are doing. while cg was informing via the sidelines of the demonstration the facts, these two demonstrators approached the cg and scolded the cg and asked the cg to pick u the microphone. Come on mate…. everyone will also do the same and ask that the police come and stop the harassment this is OZ. for the two guys who harassed cg and their face are also in the youtube watching cg giving the interview, please come forward and tell the truth. As the saying goes initial act will normally lead to consequences, thus please don’t manipulate facts.. and be kind… This is BERSIH mate, please be BERSIH and don’t contaminate our BERSIH with this lame stuff!

  14. Changeagent

    Mackmalaysia: Congratulations on doing your phd here in Melbourne. I don’t really know what your point is for telling us this, but congratulations anyway. Unlike you, I do not have the previlege of meeting the CG personally and can appreciate that he has always been there for you and your phd buddies. Forget what I said about his personal stance. What is his official stance anyway? What is the Malaysian government’s official stance of having a clean and fair electoral system? If the CG himself cannot clarify this point clearly or make himself easily understood, is it unfair for one to criticise his poor communication skills?

    K: You seem to know it all, don’t you? How do you know if I have “taken up citizenship elsewhere” or “never practice my rights to participate in elections”? Who are you to tell me that I do not have rights to rally outside of Malaysia, go back to Malaysia if I want to protect my rights, or enjoy my life elsewhere or keep quiet? I feel sorry for people with your kind of outdated and immature mentality – it’s people like you who keep Malaysia entrenched in a third-world mindset. It’s also such a pity that living in Melbourne hasn’t helped you become more open-minded. Here’s an idea for you – why don’t you go back to Malaysia right now? Why do you even bother being here? Go back home so you can be the kind of ‘jaguh kampung’ that you are trying to be here.

    Mr Sam: I accept what you have said. I apologise if I have come across as attacking trivial matters like ‘spoken English’. My real intention was to highlight the lack of clear and objective stance by the Malaysian government, or specifically, by the CG. However, I beg to differ that the role of government officials is to just parrot the official stance of the ruling government-of-the-day. The CG should be non-partisan as he is ultimately answerable to the country and its people first and foremost, not any political party. The CG himself should understand this perfectly well since he has repeated the need to demonstrate non-partisanship. The role of our consulate representatives is to relay the general sentiments of the people back to the government, regardless of whether we are here in Melbourne, KL or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

  15. Varanasi

    I agree with Suresh that we should not contaminate the discussion with something which is necessary and out of context. The video did not disclose other than what it should disclosed. It did not inform on the harassment etc, so we have to be objective and stay focus. Please don’t put much salt in already salty plate my dear countryman. Hidup Satu Malaysia!

  16. SureshVick

    I was wondering my comments are not taken up while that of changeagent is. Is this what meld magazine is supporting on? I thought the magazine are for nice and clean comments. I am here to reiterate that media should disseminate valid and non bias information as mentioned by Tony Liew earlier. One more thing what I commented earlier is that I was there when CG was harassed and i call upon the harasser, photos of them are in the background of cg interview with the journalist. ask them how they harassed cg and scolded cg and forced him not to say anything against what the speakers saying although the facts are not true. CG then immediately asked the police to be there to caution the guys not to continue the harassment. I hope the moderator can expose this comment. Hope changeagent is not the moderator then it is useless to continue this discourse that will definitely be wiped out.

  17. Nuar Gokul

    I agree with Mr Sam that CG reflects the government of the day view. Look at the video you can see that CG neither support nor going against BERSIH. So what else you need mate? to changeagent I know CG and it would be great if you could have a chat with CG and he is very open and ever willing to meet any Malaysians. Just call him at 0395735400

  18. Vicknaraj

    The Problem with Free Speech is that u can’t turn it off / on like a switch, it works both ways even if what is said is not palatable; perhaps when we are matured enough to understand this concept then peaceful demonstrations and sit ins can be organized without fear of it being turned into a rowdy movement. As for unruly n vulgar comments, it ought not be a reflection of the a largely peaceful movement but a reflection of the upbringing, class, education and culture (or lack of) of the commentators.

    As for freedom of speech and courage, I would only acknowledge those who want to participate in a discourse without hiding behind pseudo / pen names.

    Come on guys there is no such thing as absolute freedoms and due respect needs to be given when exercising such freedoms. If we don’t adopt such discipline and civility from the very start, this is a loss cause, and the cost spent on your education would have been been better put for a donation at your local charity.

  19. Vicknaraj

    I think credit needs to be given where credit is due. I don’t see any other official engaging with the people and the press as the CG Dr Rameez. Maturity of thought and exposure would dictate an acknowledgement that civil servants /public servants needs to issue statements according to government guideline and official government policy; how can you expect a civil servant to provide a personal opinion when attending an official function in an official capacity, and more importantly when the statement is published in a public sphere. Is this play of words suppose to entrap this gentleman; come-on guys a bit more class and candor please.. If you want his personal opinion go have a personal and private chat with him. In my view, There is a difference between politicians, civil servants and normal citizens especially in exercising their free speech and where they choose to do so.

  20. Raj

    You should also have demanded from Susilo Bambang and Sheikh Hasina through their embassies why they do nothing when their workers are used as pawns to destroy election results by being given instant citizenship.Indonesia and Bangladesh are also the cause for not being able to have a free and fair election in Malaysia.This nasty cult was started by Dr.M and now has become a norm thus denying the genuine aspirations of all Malaysians in an election.

  21. Bersih Passerby

    Dear MELD & Sumisha, can we clear the air here and roll back the audio? I’m pretty sure the Consul General said that in his interview. It is after all Freedom Media Week starting tomorrow. Is the Consul General afraid of responding now?

  22. David Teoh

    Dear Bersih Passerby, et al.

    Let us acknowledge something here: which consul general /highcommissioner /ambassador in the world attended a Bersih rally and openly engaged with everyone? None, except Dr Rameez. I know Dr Rameez personally, he has been always open to engage with all Malaysians here in Melbourne and has contributed significantly to overall community building here in Melbourne amongst all Malaysians.

    Part of the challenge organising a rally like this is the fact that we can only remind and advise others that the Bersih Movement is a non-partisan movement calling for clean and fair elections in Malaysia. The fact that some individuals chose to express partisan sentiments and there were instances of namecalling at the Melbourne rally, detracts from the overall demand for clean elections.

    While there is freedom of speech, we all have to be responsible for what we say. Shall we all move on from here and focus on the bigger picture? Thank you.

  23. WanFAIRus

    dear shows whatever the meld magazine put as full version of the interview you can mumbo jumbo say and accused anything. Are you for personal attack which can lead to defamation and it is not ethical at all..please be careful have guts to put real name and don’t play you words. Don’t jump into conclusion, and it shows you don’t respect civil servants what more malaysia. Why not asking the two harraser on CG come forward declare their names and ask them what they said. One more thing i was also a passerby and i heard some bersih demonstrators call for barisan nasional and it’s leader like Najib to “belah and mampus”. perhaps meld also can look into this to show hoe bersih and non partisan the bersih rally in Melbourne is….i think CG by not commenting anymore indicates that he is mature enough to accept comments made and this is a sign of good leadership…Kudos to the CG.

  24. WanFAIRus

    …and passerby if you have some personal issue on CG as vicknaraj said go and meet him. the office is at st kilda road.. i am sure although you attack him he will welcome you like he welcomed the two basslers who hassled CG durung the rally.

  25. matt ogden

    David: i totally agree with you.
    CG Dr.Rameez: I dont know you personally but from what i had been told by my friends, you are very helpfull and a good govt servant. In my opinion, to attack you personally is quite unprofessional. I could not find any statement made by you, attacking any political party/leaders and what you said was merely correcting certain fact which are within his personal knowledge. You ‘re brave enough to be there during bersih 3.0.

  26. michael Lee

    CG Mr.Rameez..i got your point. Good job mate. Malaysian government must be very proud of you. Right man at a right place.

  27. matt ogden

    i think CG ‘d just correcting certain facts which ‘re within his personal knowledge as a Malaysian government servant. By attacking him personally is totally unacceptable and unprofessional. Just like David said: pls focus on bigger issue.

  28. David Teoh

    WanFAIRus, let me be clear on one point. Bersih is an amorphous movement, we are not a club with membership roll, so for you to say that just because of what a few people in the crowd said at the Melbourne rally the Bersih rally is partisan is inaccurate and irresponsible on your part. We made it very clear that this is about the EC/SPR not the government of Malaysia.

  29. k

    Changeagent: you seems u to all as well, how do you know that i am staying in melbourne and not malaysia? Since you feel that staying in Melb can help to open your mind, then carry on, why you need to bother about what happened in Malaysia..

  30. Changeagent

    Hi K, I will be nice to you because you have so much to learn, regardless of whether you’re in Melbourne or Malaysia right now. I am currently residing in Australia because it offers me immeasurable opportunities that I will never get in Malaysia. This is a fact of life that many other Malaysian students or migrants here can appreciate, whether or not they want to be honest about it with you. But just because we are living overseas doesn’t mean we cannot ‘bother’ (your word) with what is happening back home. Malaysia is still my home and where my heart is. Just because I ‘bother’ is completely my own decision to make and absolutely none of your business. Hope I have made this simple enough for you to understand.

    To most other fair commentators here, I want to acknowledge your points that the CG is between a rock and a hard place and is expected to toe the official government line. Based on many first hand accounts here, I can accept that the CG is a decent man and would like to offer my sincere apologies for any unfair comments made or offence caused to him. My anger and frustrations at the time of writing were triggered and compounded by the brutal police attacks, biased media reporting and government/EC apathy back home, not necessarily at the CG. I should have made this clearer from the onset.

    I respect that Bersih 3.0 is a non-partisan movement, and fully support what it stands for. However, since I am not from its organising committee, I will make one last point from how I see it (however unpopular this may be). Many of you have called on others to focus on the “bigger picture”. A lot have been said here about about the need to remain non-partisan. I can understand that this is the politically correct stance to appease both BN and Pakatan supporters alike. However, being politically correct doesn’t mask the fact of the EC’s blatant biasedness towards the BN government. The former is incapable and will not implement any of the eight demands for electoral reforms without the tacit approval of BN. Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that they work hand in glove with each other. So why is there such a need to tread water for fear of upsetting a few staunch BN supporters? My relatives and friends in Malaysia were beaten up by police and sprayed with chemical-laced water for exercising their democratic rights to assemble peacefully, all just because BN wants to cling onto power at all costs. What excuse then do I have here for trying to play it nice and not really calling it as what it really is? Writing this post and venting my frustrations here is really the least that I can do compared to the unnecessary police heavy-handedness and brutality they had to endure back home. So what if a few people here want to say or think that Bersih is partisan? Pleasing everyone by trying so hard to play the non-partisan card alone will not help us achieve free and fair elections in Malaysia – for the simple fact that the BN government itself is 100% against free and fair elections. I hope we do not deceive ourselves by thinking that BN isn’t part of the problem. They are very much a part of the “bigger picture”.

    I will conclude here by re-emphasising that the views I have stated here are purely my own and has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Bersih 3.0 movement. To those here who would say that I am not qualified to comment because I hide behind a pseudo or pen name, well….. , you go ahead and think or do whatever you wish. Although I might just add that there’s a very good reason why many Malaysians like me who still do not feel safe enough to openly reveal our real names when participating in public blogs like this. The threats and repercussions to our loved ones back home is a risk I am not willing to take. I believe I have clarified and said everything I needed to say here. This will be my last post on this topic, unless smart people like K have something else to say to me.

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