BERSIH: Hishamuddin must resign if Najib means business

BERSIH press relase on 17 May at Petaling Jaya
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) supports the Bar Council’s demand for the resignation of the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, the Brickfields OCPD Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid and investigating officer on-duty Jude Pereira over the unlawful arrest of five lawyers on duty on May 7, 2009.

Responding to the Bar’s demand for an apology, Hishamuddin has replied that “lawyers are not above the law”, implying that lawyers representing detainees can be construed as a “criminal” act. BERSIH stresses that, such responses reveal a lack of both competence and integrity on the part of the Home Minister who is in charge of law and order issues.
BERSIH calls upon Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to immediately remove Hishamuddin from his Home Affairs portfolio if the Minister refuses to resign. A minor reshuffle of the Cabinet is inevitable if the Prime Minister means business in his slogan “performance now”. Like the Perak coup, Hishamuddin’s abysmal and misjudged performance is now a liability to the new Cabinet.
BERSIH also calls upon Koh Tsu Koon, the Minister in charge of monitoring the performance of all Ministers to either recommend the removal of Hishamuddin or come out in defence of the Minister. Koh’s portfolio in quality control (QC) would be pointless if he does not respond to crises but produces a KPI report only after months of disastrous ministerial incompetence.
BERSIH stresses that the Bar Council’s resolution to demand political accountability and seek judicial remedy over the unlawful arrest of lawyers on duty is an act to protect public interest, and must not be seen as driven by self-interest. Civil society groups including other professional organizations should therefore show solidarity with the Bar in demanding an unreserved apology from the government and the resignation of the Ministers and police officers for their misconduct.