It seems like Bersih 5 is not the only rally happening in Malaysia, with the Red Shirt (Himpunan Merah) 2.0 rally planned to be held simultaneously as the former.
The leader and organiser of the rally, Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunus, stated that this time around, it will be more multiracial and 40% more Chinese and Indian citizens are expected to attend. He also explained that they will be fighting for democracy and the rally will not be about racism.
He has also insisted that his rally is themed “defense of constitutional democracy”, and would follow all the necessary procedures imposed by the government if Bersih 5 does so.
The Sungai Besar UMNO chief is confident that Malaysians of all races would attend his rally, previously named Himpunan Maruah Melayu (Gathering To Preserve Dignity of Malays), this time, elaborating:
“We were wrongly portrayed by the Opposition. They were spreading misleading information about us on how we are a bunch of racists. I am confident that this year’s Red Shirt Rally will see the support of the non-Malay non-government organisation (NGO) to prove to the Opposition that we are not racist.
The Himpunan Merah is not about racism – we are standing up for democracy. Why I say we will have support from the non-Malay NGOs and public is because they are tired of the lies the Opposition is spreading and promising. Each time a Bersih rally happens, the businessmen suffer in the areas where the rally passes. We are standing up for these people.”
Jamal claims that so far, an amount of 58,000 people from various non-governmental associations have signed on to attend the rally. He also said that the rally has the full confidence of some 600 NGOs nationwide, and will go on if the Bersih rally is held.
“It is clear today that the Red shirt 2.0 rally will go ahead if Bersih 5 goes ahead,” explained Jamal during the sales of the new Red Shirt rally t-shirts in Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC). He also stated that 50,000 of the new t-shirts have been printed, and the organisers will go on a “road show” from state to state in order to encourage more people to go against the Bersih rally.
The first Red Shirt rally was held last year as a respond to Bersih 4. Many supporters of UMNO attended the march that was held on Malaysia Day, 16th September 2015. However, quite an amount of parties were unhappy with the decision, stating that it was interfering with the spirit of the historical day.
It remains to be seen if the 60,000 who pledged their support would attend the rally, as last year’s event was fraught with controversy.
Jamal claimed that around 300,000 showed up at the rally, with 1 million supporters rooting from afar, but an official police report puts the number at only 35,000. Several racist sentiments were also uttered by the supporters, with Jamal Yunus leading the chant of “Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy)” and telling the Chinese not to be “kurang ajar (rude)” to the Malay race.