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Ex-ABIM President Takes The Helm At BERSIH

Ex-ABIM President Takes The Helm At BERSIH

Muhammad Faisal won a closely contested race, signalling a new chapter for the electoral reform movement.

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Former Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) president Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz has been elected as the new chairman to lead the electoral reform group BERSIH.

In a closely contested race against another candidate, Gopalan K Papachan, Faisal emerged victorious, securing 23 out of 45 votes from the coalition’s 61 participating NGOs, while Gopalan received 22.

Following this outcome, the selection committee declared Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz as the new Chairman of BERSIH for the 2023-2025 term.

Muhammad Faisal stands as a beacon of hope and a voice for the voiceless in a world often deaf to the cries of the oppressed.

His dedication to humanitarian causes has propelled him onto the international stage, where he has become an ardent defender of the rights of marginalized communities, including the Uyghurs and Palestinians.

His advocacy for the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group facing severe human rights violations in Xinjiang, China, has brought much-needed attention to their plight.

READ MORE: With New NGO, Malaysians Show Support For Uyghurs

READ MORE: ABIM Takes Pen To Paper, Urges US and China To Take Action On Uyghur And Jenin Issues

The committee congratulated the chosen candidate and wished them the best in leading BERSIH this term.

This election for the BERSIH chairman position comes after Thomas Fann stepped down last month, citing a lack of support for his team within the participating NGOs.

Fann interpreted the election as a vote of no confidence in his leadership, prompting his resignation.

BERSIH: Driving Change and Championing Democracy in Malaysia

BERSIH holds significant importance in Malaysia’s political landscape, as it has been credited for driving a shift in the country’s political dynamics.

It has a history of collaboration with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

For instance, the movement’s first rally, BERSIH 2007, was supported by 32 NGOs, and the coalition has continued to work closely with civil society groups to advocate for clean and fair elections.

BERSIH supporters faced the government’s heavy hand, in the form of tear gas, water cannons and arrests, during the movement’s early years.

At the same time, BERSIH leaders also faced harassment and intimidation from government supporters.

In May 2012, former Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was subjected to a provocative dance by Ali Tinju and his army veteran associates in front of her residence in Bukit Damansara, as a display of their disapproval of the Bersih 3 rally.

Meanwhile, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok faced backlash in early 2014 for her “Onederful Malaysia” Chinese New Year video, leading to a group of Malays responding with anger by slaughtering chickens and offering a cash reward for anyone who would slap her.

The movement played a pivotal role in Malaysia’s 2008 general election, contributing to the ruling coalition’s failure to secure a two-thirds majority for the first time since 1969.

This demonstrates BERSIH’s influence in shaping the democratic process and holding political entities accountable.

A BERSIH 3.0 demonstration in Ipoh, Perak, with participants carrying banners. The rally took place in 2011. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

BERSIH’s ties with ABIM and its involvement in advocating for electoral reform underscore the movement’s commitment to upholding transparency and fairness in Malaysia’s political system.

Additionally, the movement’s association with prominent figures like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim highlights its significance in championing democratic principles and reform efforts.

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