Nov 7, 07
Poll watchdog Bersih has been denied permission to hold a massive public rally calling for electoral reforms at Dataran Merdeka this Saturday, said Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharom today.
Bersih had applied for a permit on Nov 3 to hold the rally and based on a number of factors, the police refused to issue one.
“From what I understand, police did not issue the permit as the organisation is not a registered body. It also did not obtain permission from the City Hall to use the Merdeka Square,” Bernama quoted the deputy minister as saying.
“We learned that a march would also be held (by the organiser) which could disrupt public order. Based on these reasons, police are not allowing the gathering to take place,” he said.
Bernama said that he told this to reporters at Parliament’s lobby today.
Johari added that since no permit has been issued to Bersih, the gathering on Saturday would be deemed to be an illegal assembly.
He also warned that action could be taken against those who organised or took part in such an illegal rally under Section 27 of the Police Act 1967.
“I am appealing to members of the public not to take part in this rally. We will not hesitate to take action against those who assemble there (Dataran Merdeka) for the gathering.
“We have identified their leaders and will take firm action if they go ahead with the rally without permit,” he said.
However, he said the organisation could apply for a police permit to send a memorandum to the relevant authority through several representatives.
Bersih – the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections – comprising 60 NGOs and opposition parties, is looking to attract some 10,000 people for the rally, scheduled to begin at 3pm at Dataran Merdeka.
They plan to march to the national palace to submit a memorandum to the King at 5pm, demanding for a clean and fair elections. The organisers have called on protest marchers to come dressed in yellow.
When contacted for reaction, Bersih secretariat member Faisal Mustaffa said they received the rejection letter from the Dang Wangi district police chief Mohd Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman this morning.
“We will be appealing against this decision tomorrow by submitting a letter to Mohd Zulkarnain,” he said.
Yesterday Umno Youth’s deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin urged the police to arrest the organisers for organising the illegal rally.
“This is an illegal gathering by an illegal organisation. The authorities, particularly the police, must apprehend those who organise this gathering,” said Khairy in his winding-up speech at the Umno Youth annual general assembly.
Khairy said he was not against the exercise of democratic rights or hearing grouses from the people, but stressed that his opposition to the gathering was based on concerns for public safety as well as law and order.
Watch Khairy’s “Stop the BERSIH Rally” speech here.
Police reject Bersih's application for rally permit