Friday, 18 August 2017


Reformasi was a protest movement that began in September 1998 throughout Malaysia, initiated by Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim after his sacking as Deputy Prime Minister by the country's then Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad. 

The massive movement consisted of civil disobedience,demonstrations, sit-ins, rioting, occupations and online activism, involving thousands across Malaysia protesting against the Barisan Nasional government under the Dictatorship of Tun Mahathir. 

In early September 1998, Anwar Ibrahim, who was the Deputy Prime Minister, was unceremoniously removed from his positions in government and UMNO. 

He was fired for sexual misconduct. Even before charges were laid, Mahathir explained in graphic detail, repeated in stunningly explicit lead articles and banner headlines in the press, that his deputy was guilty of adultery, sodomy, and was trying to cover up evidences of his trysts.

However, Anwar was not immediately detained. For 18 days he toured the country, giving extremely well attended public lectures on justice, the purported evils of Mahathirism, the prevalence of cronyism and corruption, the needs for social safety nets and the urgency to reform.

During the birth of the Reformasi movement? I was just 17 years old, I had just finished school and as a teenager with rebellious blood running through my veins? I went to see what all the commotion was all about. 

I went to see Anwar Ibrahim's speech on Sunday 20th September 1998, where the largest ever demonstration at the time took place in Dataran Merdeka. The crowd that had gathered at the National Mosque for Anwar’s landmark Reformasi speech, rallied on to Dataran Merdeka for another speech, then on to Jalan Raja Laut and ended up in front of EPF.

The rally was so mesmerizing that at the end of the day we were all pumped up and began shouting slogans such as Mahathir Undur, Undur Segera, Selamatkan Malaysia, Mahathir Letak Jawatan, Mahafiraun, Mahazalim & Reformasi, Reformasi, Reformasi! 

We all wanted to be a part of the movement that was going to put an end to the Iron Fist Rule of one of the World's most sadistic Dictators. 

I still remember when me and my school mate went to Kampung Baru where the movement continued. It was the night when a police officer had to fire live rounds in the air to get the crowds to disperse. 

We parked our motorcycle near the entrance of the Mosque and by the time we came back? All the motorcycles tyre's were deflated. We had to push the motorcycle all the way to the Shell Station at Chow Kit and fill air to get home. 

Soon after leading the enormous rally in Kuala Lumpur on September 20, 1998, Anwar was finally arrested, together with a number of his followers. 

In addition, hundreds of demonstrators were eventually charged with illegal assembly and related offenses. Anwar was initially held under the ISA before other charges were specified. 

Opposition to the ISA became a central issue to the Reformasi movement. Nine days after his arrest, Anwar appeared in court with serious head and neck injuries. As the Royal Commission of Inquiry concluded in March 1999, Anwar had been beaten in the custody by Rahim Noor the then inspector general of police, and had then been confined under ISA to conceal his injuries.

Although the Father of the Reformasi movement was jailed? The movement continued to grow with the formation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the movement also went on to pioneer ground breaking rallies and street protest such as Bersih which at the beginning was part and parcel of the Reformasi movement and coincided with its agendas. 

Nearly 2 decades later the Reformasi movement which was about putting an end to the Iron Fist Rule of the then Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his policies has become irrelevant. 

Because almost all of Tun Mahathir policies that the movement was in opposition to have been thrown out, amended and do not exist anymore thanks to the efforts of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badwi and the current Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Razak. 

Today Malaysians enjoy freedom of speech and many other civil liberties that did not exist during the rule of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

We have numerous and effective anti corruption bodies that have caught and convicted countless Government Officials, Ministers and Personnel on corruption charges. 

Today there is no detention without trial as the ISA and other draconian laws no longer exists thanks to our current Prime Minister who abolished the ISA in 2011 and has never used any means of unlawful detention or detention without trials. 

Today police officers and other authorities can't abuse their powers thanks to agencies such as the MACC and SPRM that will hold them accountable for their action and we can always go to such agencies if in any case where Government Officials do abuse their powers. 

Today almost all Government projects such as the MRT project is fully owned and run by the Government in contrast to the time of Tun Mahathir were all Government projects were privatised and contracts given to the numerous well known Cronies of Tun Mahathir. 

Today the Government does not emphasise and use racial policies which was the main strategy used by Tun Mahathir to devide and rule during and after his tenure, this we see in the Prime Ministers effort in spearheading the 1 Malaysia Concept of Social Equity. 

Today the calls for free and fair elections and accusations of gerrymandering in the General Elections only occurs in states that the Opposition happens to lose in. If and when they win? Then it totally legit and was through the democratic process and must not be disputed. 


Today the goals of the Reformasi movement and the purpose of its formation have already been achieved such as calling for the Resignation of the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Putting an end to Mahathirism, ending cronyism and taking initiative to curve and ultimately end corrupt, putting an end to detention without trial and other draconian laws such as the ISA, as well as reforms of social equality, social justice and meritocracy all have been achieved ironically not by the Reformasi movement but by our current Ruling Government. 

Yet today the Reformasi movement is still propagated and is currently being used by Politicians for a totally different agenda which is to gain power and to overthrow the current Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib, the man that achieved what they could not. 

And the worst part is that the Reformasi movement today is being used to put the man whose policies were the reason the entire movement was founded on to oppose Tun Mahathir back into Power. 

Today Anwar Ibrahim has called the Reformasi movement and all his followers to forgive and forget Tun and also all the principles that they were all about and focus on overthrowing the current Prime Minister the man that has achieved what they could not. 

Today not only has Anwar Ibrahim, his Family and other founders of the Reformasi movement betrayed the entire Movement and it's followers but all Malaysian that were involved in it and that believed in it. 

Many people gave their all to this movement, they gave their lives, donated not only money but their time and effort as well, sacrifice their freedoms and liberties, many were beaten, threatened, detained for years, many more lost their jobs, their livelihood and not only they but their Families had suffered as a consequence of their loyalties to this movement. 

And at the end they and everything they believed in was betrayed by the man who they gave their all. A man whose only obvious intent and interest have nothing to do with the principals of the Reformasi movement and a man with no other intent and interest that to gain power. 

This betrayal is what I call the Death of Reformasi. The death of a movement that is no longer relevant, a movement that is now used to fight for what is was intended to fight against in the first place, a movement that has lost it's values and is filled with hypocrisy and has no purpose other that to satisfy the greed of Politicians that urn for nothing else except to come to power. 

The most ironic part of all this is that the Reformasi movement died in giving way to what they initially sought to kill... MAHATHIRISM and it's unquenchable thirst for power.

Written by, 
-Salahuddin Haris
(A Reformed Reformist)
Artikel terkini Portal Jejarikami

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