By Mohd Farhan Darwis
KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — Bersih will embark on a nationwide campaign to spread voting awareness among Malaysians, a month after its highly publicised rally which critics say affected the group's credibility.
The nationwide tour will focus on educating Malaysians on the need to vote ahead of an expected general election.
The campaign, titled "Come out to vote, fight the lies" will begin next month and will focus on rural constituencies.
"Bersih will go back to our main agenda, with having a 'roadshow' starting this June.
"We will explain why voters need to go out and vote and to fight the lies in the Election Commission's (EC) voter registration roll," Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah (picture) said when met during a 's candlelight vigil in front of the gates of Taman Tasik Perdana.
Maria said that among the actitivies which will be conducted by Bersih will include forum and ceramahs from Bersih panelists.
"We have so far planned to have seven forums including ceramahs in the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak.
"We move on the name of Bersih, without involving parties, but if there are invitations from Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to join their ceramahs, we welcome it," she added.
She said the campaign will kick off starting the second week of June in Perak, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Malacca, whereas Johor's programmes will begin in July.
The April 28 rally that saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her announcement was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted to linger around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protesters breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.