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,