The Profound Impact of the BERSIH Movement since 2007
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
About the Webinar
BERSIH, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, organized five massive rallies in Kuala Lumpur between November 2007 and November 2016. While BERSIH failed to achieve its original goal to reform the electoral system, the movement made a significant political impact on Malaysia. BERSIH’s deeper influence was shown by the dynamic ways in which each rally developed its key message of popular dissent and gave voice to grievances beyond the core issue of electoral reform. The most profound meaning of the entire BERSIH progression was seen in an unfolding popular re-imagination of community and nation across ethnic and non-ethnic divides. The movement progressively mobilised civil disobedience across diverse groups throughout the country and among Malaysian communities overseas.
The defeat of Barisan Nasional in the general election of 2018 brought hopes of far-reaching electoral reform but those were dashed by the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in February 2020. Presently BERSIH continues to campaign for electoral reform as a crucial basis of democratic politics. While current conditions inhibit open mass mobilization, BERSIH offers a valuable living political memory to activists exploring ‘clean and fair’ solutions to the manifold problems highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
About the Speaker
Khoo Boo Teik, born, bred and schooled in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, before studying at universities in USA and Australia, is Professor Emeritus, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, and Research Fellow Emeritus, Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), Chiba, Japan. He was Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, from April to September 2021.
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