It is unreasonable to restrict protesters and demonstrators to a fixed location, such as a stadium, Bersih’s Maria Chin Abdullah said.
Chin declined the offer of a stadium for participants of the planned Bersih 5 rally, saying that it defeated the spirit and purpose of a demonstration.
“A protest is an expression of anger. They should be able to do it anywhere. I think it is unreasonable to request that they only protest in a stadium, under a roof, and so on,” Chin told reporters at a press conference today.
This follows the recent call by Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang for Bersih to hold its planned rally in a stadium for the sake of public safety, citing alleged “chaos” during the Bersih 3 rally in Kuala Lumpur in 2012.
Activist Ivy Josiah dismissed concerns of chaos during the protests, saying that last year’s Bersih 4 rally was a good example of a peaceful demonstration.
She also said there would most likely be no trouble with the police, saying that besides having announced their cooperation, the police had also become “mature” since the events of Bersih 4.
“I think that the police have matured since then. They have seen our peaceful demonstration. So, I don’t think there will be trouble with the police.”
The press conference was held by Bersih together with several other civil rights NGOs in solidarity with the youth and students’ coalitions behind the upcoming #TangkapMO1 rally on Aug 27.
The other NGOs present were Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Pusat KOMAS, Association of Women Lawyers, Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (Hakam), Lawyers for Liberty, and Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).
The #TangkapMO1 rally, organised by the Gerakan Anak Muda group, is pushing for the identity of the “Malaysian Official 1”, which was stated in the civil lawsuit by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), to be revealed and the person brought to justice.
“It is the authorities’ duty to investigate the identity of Malaysian Official 1,” said Chin.