ELECTORAL watchdog Bersih 2.0 will receive an award from the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) for its role in increasing public participation in Malaysian politics.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections will receive the 2017 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen and TFD chairman on December 10.
TFD chairman Su Jia-chyuan said Bersih 2.0, a coalition of 93 civil society groups, has a broad agenda to monitor political parties on both sides of the divide while representing the diversity of civil bodies in Malaysia.
“Taiwan had gone through difficulties and hardships for democratic transition and we understand the value of democracy that can only be enjoyed through a fair election system,” Su said in a statement.
That award recognises the individual or organisation that has contributed to human rights development, democracy, and peace.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, however, was barred by the Malaysian authorities from leaving the country and was unable to receive the award in South Korea.
Five months later, the award was personally handed over to Maria by Mei 18 Memorial Foundation executive director Kim Yang Rae in a special ceremony at the Vistana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
“In 10 years of fighting for free and fair elections and institutional reforms, Bersih 2.0 and its supporters have done a lot,” Maria told The Malaysian Insight.
“We have fought the culture of fear and broken down race and religion differences.
“We have been arrested and threatened in our fight for democracy and justice.
“We have mobilised hundreds of thousands Malaysians to the streets to demand for freedom of expression and the right to assemble.”
Maria said it was through their efforts that a Parliament committee for election reforms was formed with 22 recommendations including the use of indelible ink in the voting booths.
All these, she said, would not have been accomplished without the support and courage of Malaysians.
“This award is not for Bersih 2.0 but for Malaysians who love democracy,” she said.
Last year, a day before Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur, Maria was detained under the Special Preventive Law 2012 for organising the mammoth rally.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT