UPDATE July 07, 2011
Bersih to rally in Stadium Merdeka despite Cabinet refusal
KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Bersih has vowed to gather in Stadium Merdeka for its July 9 rally despite the Cabinet’s refusal to allow them to use any stadium in the capital city, ostensibly because the electoral reform coalition has been outlawed.
Bersih said in a statement last night that it “will not for one moment be swayed from our decision to gather there” to call for free and fair elections.
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim earlier said Putrajaya would not accept any application from Bersih to hold rallies in Kuala Lumpur while the police said they were still waiting for the movement to apply for a permit.
“Bersih 2.0 is disappointed in the manner in which the Prime Minister and his cabinet has reneged on their offer to provide a stadium for us to hold our peaceful gathering,” said the group in a statement signed by all 14 members of its steering committee.
Bersih representatives led by chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, on Tuesday where they agreed to the constitutional monarch’s advice to hold their rally in a stadium rather than in the streets.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak also had an audience with the King and later said he would meet with Bersih on the stadium offer but the prime minister said yesterday his offer for a stadium was on behalf of his government and the final decision lay with the police.
But a Cabinet meeting yesterday rejected the movement’s bid to hold the rally in the historic Stadium Merdeka, where Malaya declared independence in 1957.
“If the Prime Minister is a man of his word, he will make the appropriate arrangements for the event to proceed peacefully at Stadium Merdeka.
“Whether or not the government abides by their principles, we the Malaysian people will always uphold ours. Our determination to exercise our constitutional right to gather peacefully for a just and reasonable cause is unwavering,” Bersih said in the statement.
The movement made of 62 registered societies also pointed out that recent statements by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar indicated that the police would take action against those who “do anything on July 9th beyond staying at home.”
“Whatever happens between now and then, the rakyat will gather peacefully in an orderly fashion to call for clean and fair elections at Stadium Merdeka on the 9th of July at 2pm.
“We are coming, we will be peaceful and together, we will build a better Malaysia,” the Bersih statement said.
Rais had said the decision to bar Bersih from rallying in the city stadiums was due to the fact that the movement was not registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) and safety concerns.
He added that Bersih should seek out other stadiums or locations such as Kelantan or Selangor to hold its rally this Saturday.
By Yow Hong Chieh
July 06, 2011
Ambiga called the latest hurdle “wholly inconsistent” today. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has accused the authorities of “lacking good faith” for demanding that the group apply for a permit to hold its planned stadium rally this weekend.
She said the latest hurdle to the July 9 rally for free and fair elections was “wholly inconsistent” with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s earlier assurance that Bersih 2.0 could be held in a stadium, as well as the King’s wishes.
“Why are you asking us to apply for a permit when the prime minister has already okayed it?
“We don’t understand it,” she told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) here.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar earlier today reminded Bersih to apply for a permit for Saturday’s rally, warning that failure to do so would still make the event an illegal gathering.
He said Bersih had yet to inform or notify the police of their plans for the rally but gave assurance that the group’s permit application process would be expedited in view of the urgency of the situation.
Khalid further warned that those found wearing Bersih T-shirts or possessing pro-Bersih materials would still be arrested by the police as the organisation was still considered illegal.
Malay rights group Perkasa has said it too will hold a stadium rally in the capital on July 9 to counter Bersih 2.0.
Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali also urged the police not to issue a permit to Bersih as it was an illegal organisation.
He warned that the police would be setting a “very bad precedent” by issuing a permit to the election reform group as Section 27 of the Police Act stipulates that no permits may be issued to illegal organisations or individuals representing such groups.
Najib passes stadium buck to cops
By Shannon Teoh
July 06, 2011
Najib said today that he has yet to receive an official request from Bersih to meet. — file pic
KLANG, July 6 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that Bersih, although still an illegal entity, will have to make an official application to the police despite the electoral reform movement agreeing to move a planned July 9 street rally to a stadium.
The prime minister also clarified that his offer to negotiate a suitable venue was on behalf of his administration, and not himself personally.
“We will leave it to the authorities. The police will decide in the interest of safety. An official application must be submitted.
“I never said I would personally meet them. Anyone in the government can negotiate,” he told reporters this evening in remarks which suggest the government appeared to be looking for a way out of the crisis by relying on the police not to issue a permit for the rally.
In a press conference this morning, Bersih said it would make several demands such as the release of those detained for supporting the rally, allowing the public to wear yellow T-shirts in support of the movement and the formation of a royal commission into electoral practices when it met the prime minister.
But Najib said he had yet to receive any official request from Bersih.
The Umno president added that the coalition of 62 NGOs, remains an illegal body but the application could be made by a registered organisation.
Both Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had also insisted earlier today that Bersih was still outlawed and requires a permit for Saturday’s planned gathering.
“No, they are still banned, still illegal. Nobody can be above the law. Just because Tuanku met them, doesn’t mean they are no longer illegal,” Hishammuddin had said, referring to the audience granted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to Bersih yesterday, after which it accepted the stadium offer.
The police have continued to make arrests in connection with the rally, most of which revolving around yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih emblazoned on them in a clampdown that has also seen Bersih being declared illegal.
But Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin stepped in on Sunday to defuse tension by advising the Najib administration and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.