Organisers of Bersih 5 Sarawak intend to take legal action against Kuching North City Council (DBKU) for attempting to foil their rally at the amphitheatre in Jalan Budaya on Saturday
Its secretariat committee member Ann Teo told a press conference here yesterday that the turnout for the Bersih 5 Sarawak last Saturday at the Amphitheatre, Jalan Budaya was less than satisfactory as only about 500 participants turned up. She blamed the low turnout on DBKU for denying the rally organisers the use of the venue.
“To make matters worse, the amphitheatre was taped and cordoned off since Friday afternoon – more than 24 hours before the rally was due to start at 4pm on Saturday. The entrance to the car park was barricaded and two huge lorries were parked at the entrance to reinforce blockade,” she claimed.
She also blamed city council officers for blocking off access to the place to prevent would-be participants from gathering there.
“The act of barricading the entrance and not allowing the organisers to use the public place appears to be an attempt to immobilise the event.” Teo said.
She said since the amphitheatre is a public place and not a private property of the city council, a team of lawyers would be looking into the possibility of taking legal action against the council.
Teo was accompanied by volunteer lawyers Saifulnizam Sam and Murnie Hidayah Anuar as well as event organising committee member Geoffrey Tang at the press conference.
On another matter Teo said Bersih Sarawak members and symphatisers will continue to hold vigil at the Padang Merdeka here as part of an effort to demand for the release of Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah from police custody in Kuala Lumpur.
Maria was arrested few days before the Bersih 5.0 Saturday gathering under Section 124C of the Penal Code which carries an imprisonment penalty of maximum 15 years upon conviction. The arrest under such section was read together with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (or Sosma) that allows detention without trial for 28 days. Murnie described Sosma, enacted to replace Internal Security Act (ISA), as draconian and it was used by the authorities to intimidate members of NGOs fighting for human rights.
Saifulnizam said legal minds within the Bersih group are pooling their resources together and they would file for a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Chin immediately.
“The arrest and detention of Maria is absurd and utterly uncalled for. We call for her immediate release and demand that the government uphold and respect the rights to dissent under the federal constitution,” said Teo.
Source : The Borneo Post Online