Bersih – Malaysiakini
Bersih 2.0 is adamant that Dataran Merdeka will be the venue for its sit-in rally on April 28, despite persuasions from the authorities to move the rally elsewhere.
Responding to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s appeal for Bersih 2.0 to find a “more suitable venue“, the coalition’s leader Ambiga Sreenevasan said this cannot be agreed to.
She said Bersih 2.0 chose Dataran Merdeka due to its historical relevance to the people’s struggle for Independence and a democratic Malaysia.
“We certainly do not see any reason why Dataran Merdeka is unsuitable in the light of the many events that have recently been held there, including 205th Anniversary of the Royal Malaysian Police,” she said.
Echoing Hishammuddin’s position, de facto Law Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz yesterday urged Bersih to approach the owners of Dataran Merdeka for permission.
Will notify police
The iconic field, which is used for concerts and national level parades, is managed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Although Ambiga makes no mentions of seeking DBKL’s permission, she said the committee will be writing to the police to notify them of their plans.
“We sincerely hope that the police will assist in facilitating the traffic flow on April 28 for (the rally) as it has recently done so in several public gatherings,” urged Ambiga.
Bersih is holding its third mass rally – dubbed Bersih 3.0 – in protest against the failures of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) in making key recommendations.
They argued that the PSC failed to identify and recommend appropriate remedial action for flaws in the electoral roll and failed to recommend adequate reforms for the Electoral Commission.
PAA not in force
Meanwhile, Ambiga also stressed that the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 – a new law to regulate public gatherings – have yet to come in force.
“In any event, Bersih 2.0 holds the view that the PAA violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of assembly,” said Ambiga, who is a former Bar Council president and is still a practising lawyer.
The PAA, which was quoted by both Nazri and Hishammuddin in relations to the Bersih rally, has yet to come in force although it has been gazetted because regulations and guidelines have yet to be finalised by the home ministry.
Those who violate the PAA can be fined up to RM20,000.
Critics claim that the stiff penalties and wide powers given to the home minister under this law was against the spirit of encouraging freedom of assembly