The “evils” of Bersih
“They were carrying items inciting the people to hate the government. This is serious and can threaten national security.”
“They include flyers and t-shirts with Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin and Suriani Abdullah — all connected to MCP (Malayan Communist Party) — written on them.”
Penang deputy police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar, commenting on the arrests of 31 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members on 25 June 2011. He accused the PSM members of attempting to use Bersih 2.0’s upcoming 9 July 2011 rally to rekindle communist ideology and distributing flyers deemed a threat to national security.
The 31, including Sungai Siput Member of Parliament Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, were remanded for seven days under Section 122 of the Penal Code for waging war on the Yang diPertuan Agong. Jeyakumar and five other PSM members were re-arrested upon their release on 2 July under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) 1969 which allows for detention without trial. Meanwhile, PSM chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim has refuted the allegations as “absolute nonsense” and “a piece of the madness that has taken hold of the force lately”. (Source: Police: PSM activists trying to rekindle communist ideology, The Star, 26 June 2011)
“Intelligence gathered has revealed attempts by certain quarters, including foreign elements, attempting to seize the opportunity and exploit the situation.
“There is a possibility that should the rally proceed, it could create chaos, destruction to property, injuries and even the possibility of loss of lives.”
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, warning that foreign elements are out to create chaos at the upcoming Bersih 2.0 rally. He vowed that the police would go all out to prevent the rally from being held.
Ismail said police have arrested 101 people across the country for inciting the public to join the rally and that 1,830 police reports had been made against it. (Source: Police to use all available laws to prevent July 9 demonstrations, The Star, 30 June 2011)
“If the Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal activity, then whatever they are wearing is illegal.”
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, justifying the detention of those wearing Bersih 2.0 t-shirts.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat assemblyperson Chang Lih Kang, who had been arrested in a Bersih t-shirt, tweeted that police had informed him that wearing the yellow T-shirt instigated others to attend the Bersih rally. (Source: Hisham declares Bersih T-shirt illegal, Malaysiakini, 29 June 2011)
“Action will be taken against anyone found wearing the yellow attire, or driving cars, and buses with the Bersih 2.0 logo to incite people to attend the rallies.”
Ismail, saying stern action will be taken within the confines of the law against anyone that plans to organise or participate in illegal gatherings. (Source: Police to use all available laws to prevent July 9 demonstrations, The Star, 30 June 2011)
“It seems like the parties planning the July 9 rally are desperate, and they think this is their time to stir up dissent and seize power.
“Those who are sane, have a family, educated, have business and other interests should rise against this evil and illegal programme.”
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim claimed that the Bersih 2.0 rally is a plot by the organisers to “seize power”.
In the same report, Hishammuddin also accused Bersih 2.0 of playing up political and racial issues and had other motives apart from calling for a clean and fair election. (Source: Hisham: Bersih has gone off course, The New Straits Times, 28 June 2011)
“I think their intention is not good. (Bersih 2.0 chairperson Datuk S) Ambiga is their so-called leader. But I know that behind her is the opposition as (PAS deputy president) Mohamed Sabu has been made (Bersih) deputy chairman.”
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that the Bersih 2.0 rally is a ploy by Pakatan Rakyat, hiding behind civil societies, to seize power by creating public dissent against the ruling government. (Source: Opposition using street demonstration as shortcut to Putrajaya, says Muhyiddin, Bernama, 18 June 2011)
“It does not matter if it is Bersih, Perkasa or Umno Youth — anyone who is found to be a threat to national security can be detained under the ISA.”
“For the time being, other laws can be utilised. We have not reached that level yet. We will monitor the situation.”
Hishammuddin, saying that the Home Ministry had not ruled out detaining those involved in the Bersih 2.0 rally under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial.
The right to peaceable assembly
“It should be recalled that it was Umno, led by Dato’ Onn Jaafar, then President of Umno and the grandfather of our present Minister for Home Affairs, which led the public to the streets nationwide to protest the setting up of the Malayan Union.
“Subsequent Umno leaders have also led street demonstrations, for example to call for independence, and those in support of the Palestinians…Those who say that street protests are not a part of our culture are clearly ignorant of our nation’s rich history.”
Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, reminding politicians that public rallies have been “a part and parcel of our history” to protest against injustices.
Lim also pointed out that the right to assemble and walk in support of a cause is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Malaysia embraced and accepted when it was admitted to the United Nations in 1963. It is also protected in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. (Source: Respect the right for a clean and peaceful walk, The Malaysian Bar, 23 June 2011)
“The [Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam)] calls on the authorities to allow the planned peaceful assemblies to be held, and on the parties intending to hold these assemblies to exercise their rights in a peaceful and responsible manner.”
Suhakam chairperson Tan Sri Hasmy Agam urged the authorities to respect the people’s right to peaceful assembly. The commission also reiterated its recommendation to the government to repeal certain sections of the Police Act that restricts the public’s right to peaceful assembly.
Hasmy said Suhakam would also monitor the rallies. (Source: The right to hold peaceful assemblies must be protected, Suhakam, 28 June 2011)
“Subject to clauses (2), (3) and (4) –
(a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) all citizens have the right to form associations.”