This event saw thousands of Malaysians advocating for ‘clean elections; clean government; [the] right to dissent; strengthening parliamentary democracy and saving the economy’ (Mayuri, Aizyl and Kamles 2015).
Soon after, the non-governmental organisation Himpunan Maruah Melayu (Red Shirts), which supports the ruling coalition in Malaysia, staged its own reactionary anti-Bersih demonstration (Malay Mail Online 2015). ‘UMNO Runs down LGBT, Pluralism, Liberalism as Assembly Ends’.
Butler speaks of how a subject actually ‘comes to be’ through that which can be and cannot be spoken about the subject, on personal and social planes.
At this juncture, I am reminded of the feminist and queer theorist Judith Butler’s (1997) assertion that: …
“As a democratic country, we have the right to voice things out.” Azmi Sharom, 2014.
During one of my lectures at Monash University Malaysia, my Malaysian and non-Malaysian students and I looked at challenges in educating the masses on issues of gender and sexual marginalisation.
Would it not be better to impose limits on freedom of expression to prevent anarchy and preserve national cohesiveness?
Then I thought of Pope Francis’ (as cited in Topping 2015) quip in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris that freedom of expression has its limits, particularly if they trample on the religious sentiments of others. ‘Mak Nyahs (Male Transsexuals) in Malaysia: The Influence of Culture and Religion on Their Identity’.