Foreign-backed Protest Rocks Malaysia

Bersih 3.0: Politicizing the Apolitical in Malaysia

Nile Bowie


April 29, 2012 

Protests rocked the streets of the
Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, April 28, as an estimated 25,000
people took to the streets in support of Bersih [1], an organization fighting
to reform the nation’s electoral system. The organization refers to itself as ‘The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections’,
comprised of 84 Malaysian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that form a ‘coalition of like minded civil society
organizations unaffiliated to any political party’ [2]. The recent rally
follows two previous mass demonstrations in November 2007 and July 2011, as
organizers renew their demands for the Malaysian Election Commission to resign
before the 13th General Elections scheduled for June 2012 [3]. Although the
coalition claims to be devoid of political affiliation, the movement is fully
endorsed by Malaysia’s main opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan
Rakyat political coalition he oversees.

Following documented cases of United
States-based organizations funding pro-opposition civil society groups
associated with civil unrest in Russia [4] and the Middle East [5], Chairperson
Ambiga Sreenevasan acknowledged that the Bersih coalition received financial
support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and George Soros’ Open
Society Institute (OSI) [6]. An article published in the New York Times
entitled “U.S. Groups
Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings
” reveals organizations such as
the National Democratic Institute receive funding from the National Endowment
for Democracy (NED), a recipient of funds directly from the US Congress [7]. The
Bersih Coalition has also received support from the US-based Freedom House [8],
an NGO that receives direct funding from the US State Department [9]. While concern
over electoral corruption and the various legitimate grievances of Bersih
supporters may be entirely justified, the coalition’s association with
opposition Political parties and groups financed by the United States
government suggests subversion.

Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammed has warned that
the ruling
Barisan Nasional party is targeted
for regime change due to its stance on Israel and criticism of US policy, while
condemning Anwar Ibrahim for his close ties to Paul Wolfowitz and other
adherents of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) [10]. Furthermore,
Mahathir has accused the United States of using currency manipulation and
US-funded NGOs to orchestrate the kind of destabilization needed to install a
compliant proxy government [11]. Dr. William Robinson explains the subversive
methods of conducting regime change through “democracy promotion” in his book,
‘Promoting Polyarhcy,’ “In Latin
America, in Eastern Europe with the Velvet Revolutions, in Africa, in the
Middle East, really all over the world, the U.S. set up these different
mechanisms now for penetrating these civil societies in the political systems
of countries that are going to be intervened and to assure the outcome is going
to be pleasing to Washington’s foreign policy objectives
” [12].

Continue reading Nile Bowie’s report and view his firsthand photography of the weekend protest on his blog,