Bersih vows to proceed with Nov 10 rally

Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysiakini)
Nov 1, 07

“If you want to hold a public rally, you must have a police permit. There’s no two ways about it.” This was the message conveyed to the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) by Kuala Lumpur chief police officer Zulhasnan Najib Baharuddin today.

According to Bersih members, the CPO said he understood the concerns expressed by Bersih’s five-member delegation who called on him today to explain that the rally is to demand for electoral reforms.
But Zulhasnan (right) told the delegation that he must act in accordance with the law and in that connection, he must ask Bersih to apply for a police permit for the Nov 10 gathering as it is required by law.
However, it is not clear whether Bersih would apply for the police permit as the organisation feels it is the democratic right of citizens to hold peaceful gatherings.
The delegation of Bersih comprised PKR vice-president S Sivarasa, DAP election adviser Liew Chin Tong, PAS research director Dr Zulkifli Ahmad, PAS central committee member Dr Syed Azman Nawawi and Bersih’s secretariat staff Faisal Mustapha.
The polls watchdog met with Zulhasnan at the Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters following police warning that without a permit, they would not be allowed to proceed.
The Nov 10 gathering is expected to mobilise more than 10,000 people and is meant to protest alleged unfairness in the election system.
The crowd will march from Dataran Merdeka to the Istana Negara to hand over a memorandum for electoral reforms to the Agong.
Frank, cordial meeting
According to Sivarasa, the 40-minute with the CPO was a “cordial” one.
“It was a frank meeting. Zulhasnan did not automatically brush aside our concerns but appealed to us to understand that he too has a duty to perform,” said the PKR vice-president.
Dzulkifli added that the police must be responsible to uphold democracy through the laws and not use force to suppress the protesters, like it happened in the Batu Burok shooting incident.
He said that Bersih would meet tonight to inform other members of the outcome of today’s meeting with the police and discuss their next course of action.
The polls watchdog launched a ‘yellow wave’ campaign later this afternoon at Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, where they urged Malaysians to join the Nov 10 rally by donning yellow T-shirts, which represent the colour of press freedom.
Bersih is currently engaged in various ongoing campaigns demanding electoral reforms such as the Election Commission, the abolition of postal voting system and the use of indelible ink to curb the menace of phantom voters.
To date however, the government and the commission have ignored all of Bersih’s demands apart from the use of indelible ink in the coming general election.