The performance led by Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan is one of over a dozen performances lined up for the seven-hour gig at the Petaling Jaya City Council stadium, starting from 4pm.
“Bersih, Bersih, Bersih, we want clean elections. Bersih, Bersih, Bersih, we want clean politics. Bersih, Bersih, Bersih, we want clean media... Don’t lie to us, we are not stupid,” their song went, before inviting the 800-strong audience to sing along.
Despite the small turnout compared to most Bersih events and a drizzle that lasted for almost an entire day, participants appear undeterred from having fun and were seen clapping, singing and occasionally even dancing along with songs, especially during the last few performances.
Addressing the crowd prior to the start of her performance, Ambiga said the concert was not only a celebration of Malaysia’s civil society, but also a reminder to the government to fulfil Bersih’s eight demands for fair elections, such as equal media access and a 21-day campaign period.
“There is no reason the government can’t fulfil the eight demands. Six months have passed since the parliamentary select committee (on electoral reforms) had tabled its report to the Parliament, but the Electoral Commission is too slow in effecting changes,” she said.
Besides the committee’s song, Bersih co-chairperson and national laureate A Samad Said (above)also recited a Malay poem titled Di Atas Padang Bersejarah (On this historic field), apparently in reference to Dataran Merdeka.
'Stand up for your rights'
Meanwhile, bands such as Republic of Brickfields and singers like Ray Cheong also performed at the rock concert, where during an intermission at about 7pm, a documentary about political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s death was screened.
Most of the songs played had a political theme, with the lyrics of one song even going, “I had tear gas in my eye, and it is making me cry”, while another song went, “Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight”.
Outside the venue, some 50 stalls had been set up by businesses and NGOs to sell food, books, cartoons, video CDs of political speeches as well as a variety of political paraphernalia such as Bersih-themed handphone casings.
The NGOs including Suaram, Himpunan Hijau, Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia, Kill the Bill, also used the opportunity to promote their causes.
The pro-Bersih mothers’ group Mama Bersih also had a booth where young children drew with colour pencils, while Kumpulan Kartunis Independen had a wall set up for visitors to draw cartoons on with a marker.
Bersih steering committee members Maria Chin Abdullah and Wong Chin Huat also tried their hand at selling Bersih T-shirts.
“Long live Bersih, buy Bersih T-shirts. Votes can’t be bought but T-shirts can be sold!” said Wong through a hailer.
The night ended at about 11.30pm with a fire dance performance, where two performers twirled staffs lit on both ends and breathed fire, as other performers held up placards with Bersih’s eight demands in the background.