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Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz elected as new chairperson of BERSIH, succeeding outgoing Thomas Fann

Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, a Malaysian humanitarian activist, secured the Chairperson position at BERSIH in a recent by-election after Thomas Fann’s resignation.

In his inaugural speech, Faisal pledged collaboration with all organizations and vowed to transforming Bersih into a movement echoing the people’s voices and aspirations through proactive measures for genuine representation.



KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, a humanitarian activist in Malaysia, clinched the role of the new Chairman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) on Friday (15 December).

His victory, secured by a one-vote margin according to the electoral watchdog’s steering committee, saw Faisal, former president of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim), garnering 23 votes.

Competing against him was Gopalan K. Papachan, ex-secretary-general of the Malaysian Workers Party before it transitioned to Parti Amanah Negara, who fell short by one ballot.

On the day, BERSIH issued a press release stating that the online polling, facilitating participation of endorsing NGOs beyond Klang Valley, saw active engagement.

Out of the 61 NGOs in the BERSIH coalition, 45 ballot papers were received, achieving a 74% vote turnout.

Five on-site observers from endorsing NGOs monitored the process. To ensure complete transparency, the counting procedure was additionally live-streamed on Zoom for endorsing NGOs to witness online.

In his remarks on the inauguration, Muhammad Faisal expressed his dedication to collaborating closely with all organizations, emphasizing a comprehensive grasp and acceptance of each party’s perspectives, irrespective of their preferences.

Faisal highlighted the significant responsibility accompanying his new role, emphasizing his resolve to fulfil mandated duties with determination and integrity.

“I will engage in discussions with every organization to ensure a thorough understanding and consideration of the perspectives of each party, irrespective of their affiliations or voting preferences. This responsibility is substantial, and I will undertake it with a profound sense of duty,” he conveyed in a social media statement.

He also expressed his intention to take proactive measures in transforming Bersih into a movement that authentically represents the voice and aspirations of the people.

“I am committed to exploring the most effective means to elevate Bersih into a movement that amplifies the people’s voice,” he affirmed.


Mr Faisal studied Law LLB (Hons) at the International Islamic University Malaysia and graduated in 2010.

He was elected as the President of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) from 2019 to 2023. He is currently a partner of Anwar Ismail & Associates.

As reported earlier, the previous chairman Thomas Fann tendered his resignation on 19 November, citing a “vote of no confidence” from a divided steering committee that held contrasting views and goals.

In a Facebook post, he wrote that after a period of contemplation following the Bersih SC Election (2023-2025), Mr Fann, having won uncontested, recognises the divergence between their leadership vision and the preference of endorsing NGOs for Bersih to revert to a People’s Movement.

He then tenders resignation to facilitate the formation of a new united Steering Committee aligned with this aspiration.

In his recent statement to the media, Mr Fann expressed his regret for being unable to provide comments from Bersih following his resignation on 19th November.

He highlighted the need to adhere to caretaker protocols during the process of electing his successor and honouring the perspectives of the team.

“Now that the process is done, Bersih is fully “back online”. Please contact Sdr Faisal, my friend and a proven and able leader.”

he reiterated the crucial role of the media as a vital ally in their pursuit of reforms and expressed gratitude for the continuous support by reporting and amplifying Bersih’s voice throughout his five-year tenure.

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