Bersih gathering in Sabah fizzles out

15 December, 2007

KOTA KINABALU: Despite the earlier hype, a gathering planned by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) at Padang Merdeka here yesterday fizzled out. Fourteen Bersih supporters, led by state Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy youth chief Pajudin Nordin from Tuaran, turned up but dispersed when ordered to do so by acting city police chief Supt Rowell Marong about 9.30am.

The group was supposed to gather at Padang Merdeka before marching to Istana Negeri to hand over a memorandum calling for reforms in the national election process.
A second group of 12 people, including some from the earlier group, arrived in two 4WD vehicles around 11.15am and drove to Istana Negeri to present the memorandum. Among them were Pajudin, PKR exco member R. Sivarasa, Pas exco member Anuar Tahir and PKR Sabah Youth chief Abdul Razak Jamil.
They were stopped at a junction en-route to the istana and allowed to pass after a brief check by the police.
“We presented the memorandum, which was the same as what we presented to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin) on Nov 10,” Sivarasa said.
The memorandum was handed over to Istana Negeri deputy secretary Brahim Mohd Asli.
“Here, in Sabah, one of the main issues we urge the government to look into is the cleaning up of the electoral rolls. We believe there are many dubious names on it.”
Sivarasa said the other three issues which had to be looked into before the next election were the use of indelible ink, abolition of postal votes and access to media for all political parties.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim, who was at Padang Merdeka, said the police would not stop anybody as long as they abide by the law.
“They want to present the memo, we let them as long as they don’t break the law, like gathering illegally in a public place. They get what they want. The public is not disturbed. It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he added.