The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (or better known by its Bahasa Malaysia name “BERSIH 2.0”) is a coalition backed by 88 Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with the objective of campaigning for free and fair elections in Malaysia.
This year’s BERSIH 5.0 rally will be held on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on the 19th of November 2016.
The participants for BERSIH 5.0 will be gathering to make demands for reforms to become a national agenda, for the parliamentary democracy system to be strengthened, and for the prime minister to step down.
The campaign will be using a theme that translates to “Combine our energy—New Malaysia”, with an open invitation for all political parties including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to participate.
Some of the past rallies have been marred by clashes between authorities and ralliers, and for everyone to stay safe, we’ve come up with a list of recommended things that really should be with you if you’re planning on making it down to the streets of KL this year.
1) Wet bandana/cloth instead of dry surgical masks.
This year, forget those flimsy, thin masks you’d normally see during haze season. They don’t provide enough protection if things make a turn for the worse and tear gas is used.
Opt or a bandana instead as you would be able to tie it around your face tightly and there would be less room for chemicals in the tear gas to make contact with your skin.
It’s recommended to soak the bandana with vinegar and lime juice to counter the effects of the chemicals and allow you to breathe through the acidified cloth for several minutes while you move away from the affected area.
2) Small packets of salt instead of salt water.
To neutralise the effects of the tear gas and avoid from choking on it, bring small packets of salt. The idea is to bring a separate bottle of water and then pour the salt into it for you to rinse your body with after being exposed to the tear gas.
Having small packets also makes it easier to carry and share around rather than bringing around a bottle of salt water. Plus, if there is no need for the salt, then you’d be able to drink the water when you need it, which would not be the case if salt was already dissolved in it.
3) IC & loose change instead of entire wallet & big notes.
One vital thing to bring is your Identity Card (IC) because you’d want it with you if you ever happen to be stopped by police officers. It’ll be a risk to bring along your entire wallet though, so leave it at home. Remember that these rallies involve a lot of people, which makes losing items quite easy.
Instead of having big notes, bring loose change. You’ll save time when you want to buy food, and it makes things easier for yourself as most of the operating stores in that area will be hawkers, who would probably welcome your small change.
4) Backpack/pouch instead of handbags.
The key here is to travel light. Leave the handbags at home and find a small backpack or waist pouch for you to include your items in. This is to make sure you can bring your items with you at all times in case you might need to move around during the rally.
Handbags or a backpack that is too large would make it difficult to move around as you might hit people with them. There’s also the possibility of theft or robbery, so do stay alert.
5) Glasses instead of contact lenses.
Forget about looking fashionable at this rally, your safety is more important. Skip the contact lenses and just wear glasses as the chemicals released from tear gas could contaminate your contact lenses and result in a bad eye infection.
6) Picnic mats/plastic bags instead of foldable chairs/newspapers.
Since BERSIH 5.0 will only be a 1-day rally, there is no need for tents or sleeping bags. Even foldable chairs aren’t recommended because while you’re sitting on the ground among the masses, it could potentially block the line of sight of others sitting behind you. Don’t be that jerk who gets to sit on a chair listening comfortably to the ceramah by local politicians while the unfortunate people behind you strain their necks to see what’s going on.
Newspapers aren’t a good idea either because the ground may be wet. So it’s much better to bring a picnic mat or huge plastic bag that you can sit on and share with your group.
7) Small plastic bags instead of being a litter bug.
Gathering for rallies is one thing, throwing rubbish everywhere is another.
Whenever there’s an event with a lot of people, littering is always a problem. So bring small plastic bags to put your rubbish in and throw that a dustbin rather than just leaving trash wherever it’s convenient near you.
8) Light and dry snacks instead of full meals.
Based on previous experiences, most restaurants will be most likely closed during the rally and those which are open will be jam packed of people. Have a proper meal before arriving at the rally, and bring along light and dry snacks if you intend to be there for several hours. Of course, water is important to avoid dehydration as well.
9) Caps/raincoats instead of umbrellas.
If by any chance the weather starts to turn into a downer, don’t go around lugging around an umbrella that could potentially hit people around you and block someone’s view. Wear something simpler that provides enough protection such as disposable raincoats or caps.
10) Water-based sunscreen instead of oil-based ones.
Sunscreen is great to protect your skin against the harmful rays of the sun, especially if you’re going to be at the rally for prolonged hours. However, use water-based ones instead of oil-based sunscreens because the latter absorbs and retains chemicals and will irritate the skin. This goes the same for any oil-based products such as moisturisers, vaseline, and make-up.
11) Banners & Malaysian flags instead of air horns/vuvuzelas.
Everyone at BERSIH wants to show support in their own way. Creative people take the time to prepare banners and placards. Others buy Malaysian flags as a means of patriotism, but air horns and vuvuzelas are something that participants should just leave at home.
Air horns are loud and very disruptive to the event. With it blaring every few minutes, no one would be able to listen to the speeches clearly. Do everyone a favour and just show your enthusiasm by clapping and cheering. The old folk (especially those with sensitive ears) will certainly appreciate it.
- Dress appropriately. Protect your skin from chemicals or the heat from the sun with long sleeve tops and long pants. The rally will involve lots of walking (and maybe, running) so sport shoes or flat shoes would be best. You could even bring a change of clothing.
- Always have water or isotonic drinks on hand to stay hydrated.
- Bring necessary medication such as inhalers, insulin, band aids.
- Always have your handphone and a powerbank with you. Keep your handphone somewhere accessible but also protected from slipping out.
Have more items to add to this list? Do share and let us know so that more people will be prepared.
Feature Image Credit: straitstimes.com