An ROS (Registrar of Scoiety)officer Abdul Rahman Othman, announced today that Bersih as a n organisation has now become illegal under section 5 of the Society Act. The accusations against Bersih are
1.it cause anxiety among the people
2.it does leafleting to advocate the overthrow of the elected government;
3. it has already cause harm to the image of the government, threaten the country’s social order, security, sovereignty, prosperity and racial harmony;
There are no evidences provided-just pronouncements by the ROS. This is the kind of high handedness that Bersih and other democratic minded people have been fighting against all these years.
This pronouncement come close on the heel of Najib’s speech in Kelantan today where he made strong attacks on Bersih’s chief Ambiga. Najib target Ambiga for destroying the BN’s achievement in nation building-but did not specify how electoral reforms can bring about such destruction. But the issue here is sheer power play. It is no more a rational debate of what is good for the country. It is a party which feel threatened and blame its critics for the its electoral weaknesses. If the BN/UMNO is as confident as Najib claim to be -he is still keeping his `claws’ and not mobilise his party members to counter Bersih’s rally, then they should be open to debate with the critics. Argument by argument. Evidence by evidence. Not police vs the people. Not the bureaucracy vs the citizens. Not the monopolised media vs the civil society!
Now let’s have a closer look at the reasons:
1. Causing anxiety to the public-even price hike on sugar and fuel caused public anxiety and we get used to it. Wonder if the government think that this is a anxiety-free (sifar kebimbangan) shangrila in Malaysia?
2. Advocate the overthrow of the government? Actually all Opposition parties aspire to overthrow the ruling party through the ballot box. What is wrong with it? Leafleting to advocate for it is totally legitimate! If there are illegal methods involved they should specifiy and act on the particular activity eg you can’t outlaw a company just because of some mistake doen by it;
3. causing harm to the image of the country -well the lowly Corruption Perception index, low University ratings, high crime rate all dented Malaysia’s international image. Why not outlaw all those involved?
It appears that this is a case where the power that be just put up something to justify what it cannot quite defend rationally. It is trying to convict Bersih without any hearing and right of reply-Bersih was not even given any show cause letter as would be accorded for registered societies that may be de-registered. And that is the type of arbitrary rule that is the hallmark of dictatorship and authoritarian regimes all over the world!