Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ambiga Is Reportedly Quitting Bersih – The Movement That Has Run Its Course

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is reportedly set to quit Bersih, raising the concerns about whether the movement can survive without her.

That's not because it is incapable of operating without her at the helm, it is more a question of what's left to achieve post GE13, an election the international community and the 17 Malaysian NGOs that operated as poll observers agreed was free and fair.

But regardless, Ambiga's final petty act in charge of Bersih was to set up a "People's Tribunal" to hear sporadic grievances about GE13. This is despite the fact that PAS, DAP and PKR long ago accepted the result as did the 89 successful federal Pakatan MPs set to take their seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

Even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is criss-crossing the nation calling for a people uprising in the wake of the "stolen" election, isn't making specific allegations of wrongdoing at the ballot box or at counting centres. Instead he is absurdly claiming victory at GE13 because Pakatan shaded Barisan Nasional in the popular vote.

Ambiga, who took over Bersih at the end of 2010, has had plenty of warnings that her movement's relevance was diminishing. By the Bersih 3.0 rally in April last year the movement was beginning to splinter, turning into a broad caravan of protest groups parked beneath her yellow banner.
By the end of 2012, with landmark voting reforms in place, Bersih no longer resonated with the rakyat. The final straw was the failed 8T concert in October where fewer than 500 people turned up.
Even her old friend Karpal Singh undermined her cause when he announced that that Government's voting reforms "look alright".

But this didn't stop her beating the drum. In November she was still trying to rally an international protest movement in Australia, a quest, which failed when she was abandoned by her old friend Senator Nick Xenophon. And in December she was telling CNN that GE13 was set to be the dirtiest election ever. How wrong she was.

Ambiga is leaving Bersih vowing to hand over the baton to the next generation. Instead, she could do us all a favour by bringing the curtain down on her campaign that has generated so much unrest on our streets.

She could, if she chose to be positive, tell her fans to call it a day because they have succeeded in getting what they want. The fact that the Opposition made gains at GE13 more than confirmed we are a healthy parliamentary democracy.

But that's not Ambiga's style. She will likely fade into the background urging her successors to keep alive a pointless struggle that long ago ran its course.

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