Police quiz Bersih leaders

Soon Li Tsin (Mkini)
Nov 15, 07

Three Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) leaders were quizzed on the legality of the organisation during their meeting with the Commercial Crimes Department in Kuala Lumpur today.

PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah, DAP NGO bureau chief Ronnie Liu and PAS central committee member Dr Syed Azman Nawawi – all of whom are Bersih committee members – were questioned for an hour.
Contacted later, Sivarasa said they were asked on the status of the coalition based on several police reports that were lodged on Oct 25.
“One of them was by a Rela (volunteer corp) officer who said that the rally organised by Bersih (last Saturday) could endanger the public,” he related.
The three Bersih leaders met investigating officer ASP Amran Jusin at about 10.30am after receiving notices from the police two days ago.
Another Bersih leader PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu was not feeling well and did not attend the questioning session.
The meeting was the committee’s first after a series of postponements.
Just like Peace Malaysia
Sivarasa said they were asked to explain what Bersih is about and the police officers had tried to gather more information about the rally.
“I told them a coalition is just a body made up of many other organisations and parties. Also, if they wanted more information about Bersih, they can visit the website.
“I explained by giving examples like the Peace Malaysia coalition started by (Education Minister) Hishammuddin Hussein. It’s a not about the people in it but the campaign message,” he said.
Peace Malaysia is an Umno Youth-led coalition of NGOs, youth bodies, political parties, students, professionals and others with the common goal of pursuing world peace in the wake of the Iraq war.
Bersih – launched in November 2006 – is a coalition of five political parties and 67 civil society groups campaigning for electoral reforms.
Sivarasa, Azman and Liu were interrogated by different officers in separate rooms. They were represented by lawyers N Surendran, Jonson Chong and Yusmadi Yusoff.
Surendran later told the press that Bersih was being investigated under Section 42 of the Societies Act whereby office-bearers of an unlawful society maybe subjected to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine not exceeding RM15,000 or both.
About 30 supporters had gathered at the Commercial Crimes Department located on Bukit Perdana carrying banners and placards.
The weekend gathering organised by Bersih saw some 40,000 people taking to the streets.