BERSIH plan election protest 'carnival' next month

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Yesterday BERSIH announced plans for an election protest as the country gears up for polls which are expected to be called this year.

Organisers are hoping the Feb 23 event, tagged as a carnival, will attract something like the 30,000 people who took part in a rally last November to petition the king for a clean-up of the electoral process.
Then police, who refused permits for the event, used water cannon and tear gas to suppress what was the largest street gathering in more than a decade.
The demonstrations set off a chain of rallies that shook the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, which rarely faces open opposition.
‘We are calling it a carnival but make no mistake about it, it is a mobilisation of public opinion, said Mr Sivarasa Rasiah, leader of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) and also a vice-president in the opposition People’s Justice Party (Keadilan).
Organisers said they would be applying for a permit to hold the event at one of four large stadiums in Kuala Lumpur.
Bersih says elections in the country are flawed and called on the government to clean them up and give media access to opposition candidates.
Opposition parties and civil society groups also called for the removal of Election Commission chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman for failing to act on their demands in the past.
Datuk Seri Abdullah is expected to call an election this year, although his administration’s mandate expires in May 2009.