Bersih: Police intimidation won't work

Malaysiakini: 12 June 2008
Two key figures from polls reform movement Bersih were called up by the police today to question their role in the Nov 10 rally last year which attracted more than 40,000 people who wanted a clean and fair election.
However, the timing of the call by the police has created some suspicions among Bersih leaders.
Bersih – or in full the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections – coordinator Faisal Mustaffa felt that the police and the government were just trying to intimidate their participation in the forthcoming July 12 anti-fuel hike mass rally.
“I think the police are trying to create fear amongst the public to stop them from attending the rally.
“It is the people’s democratic right to gather and assemble peacefully and I hope this investigation will not hamper them from attending,” Faisal stressed.
Earlier both Faisal and fellow Bersih member Madeline Chang were questioned for about an hour at the Commercial Crime Investigation Department headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Faisal said that police official Amran Jusin interrogated the duo about their involvement during the Nov 10 rally which amassed a crowd of 40,000 people in central Kuala Lumpur, demanding for reform in the country’s electoral process.
“Basically he questioned us about our establishment, background and involvement during the rally last year because our names often cropped on Bersih’s website and news,” Faisal explained.
Police kept badgering
Faisal also said their lawyer Lateefah Koya, who was also present during the questioning, warned the pair to avoid answering questions that were suspicious and may lead to trouble.
However, Faisal admitted that the police did not enquire about the upcoming anti fuel-hike rally during the session.
“They kept badgering and questioning us on Bersih’s validity and Nov 10 rally. Although we said the rally organised was a combined effort of 70 non-governmental organisations,” he said.
Still, he insisted on his weariness with the timing of the questioning which could be done to put pressure on Bersih and others from participating in the anti-fuel hike protest next month.
More than 100,000 people are expected to gather at Kuala Lumpur City Centre on July 12 to protest the oil hike.
Faisal also added that the current investigation was a follow up from an earlier probe by CCID’s on five opposition leaders who were behind the Nov 10 rally.
The five were PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu, PAS activist Anuar Tahir, PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah, DAP central committee member Ronnie Liu and PAS central committee members Dr Syed Azman Nawawi.