BERSIH 2.0: Deportation of activist from Sarawak and announcement of ‘Perhimpunan Rakyat’

Deportation of Ong Boon Keong from Sarawak
BERSIH 2.0 condemns the deportation of social activist and Malaysian Election Observation Network (MEO-Net) Coordinator, Ong Boon Keong, from Sarawak on 24 May 2011.
On 24 May, a group of ten Immigration officers took Ong from Kg Bengoh to Pending Immigration office where he was asked to give a statement on his activities, particularly in relation to election observation. Ong was told verbally that he was not allowed entry into Sarawak and should he wish to enter Sarawak again, he had to make an application to Immigration authorities. Ong was also not shown or given an official letter for refusal of entry, unlike the other activists who were denied entry into Sarawak prior to the state elections last month. We are of the view that the high handed manner in which he was treated smacks of gross intimidation.
BERSIH 2.0 regards the deportation of yet another activist from Sarawak state as an outright abuse of power by the Sarawak state government and is clearly an attempt to stifle dissent. We demand that the Sarawak state government makes public the complete list of individuals barred from entering Sarawak and the reasons for denial of entry for the individuals.
BERSIH 2.0 Perhimpunan Rakyat
In relation to the announcement made by the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), BERSIH 2.0 would like to make the following clarification:
BERSIH 2.0 is a citizens’ movementfor free and fair elections. No political party is a member of the coalition nor are there any representatives from the political parties on the Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0.
BERSIH 2.0 wishes to confirm that indeed a decision had been taken at a recently held meeting with representatives from a few groups with a view to organising BERSIH 2.0’s ‘Perhimpunan Rakyat’. We are grateful for the interest of all those who attended the meeting where a sub-committee was formed by the attendees to organise this event. At the meeting, BERSIH 2.0 proposed for this event to promote democracy and to demand electoral reform and the strengthening of public institutions. We would like to emphasise that this initiative is spearheaded purely by civil society with every intention of inviting all political parties to join forces with the rakyat to promote and uphold democracy in this country. Invitations to all the political parties will be issued.
The Perhimpunan Rakyat will be held on 9 July 2011 at a time to be confirmed. We hope that this event will receive the support of all politicians and more importantly, from the rakyat. Final details of the event have yet to be worked out and BERSIH 2.0 will be making the necessary announcement soon.
BERSIH 2.0 has been advocating electoral reform but our demands have fallen on deaf ears. The purpose of the event is threefold: to further press for the rakyat’s demands for electoral reform, strengthening of public institutions, and to take a stand against widespread corruption at all levels of society.
BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed that the immediate response to the announcement was met with condemnation and a threat to clamp down hard on the event. BERSIH 2.0 hopes that those in authority will shift from the traditional and archaic positions held in relation to the freedom of expression by the rakyat of their views.
On the contrary, the time has come for those mandated to administer the nation to “listen to the voices of the rakyat”. There is a clamour worldwide for greater democratisation of societies and we would invite those in power to heed those voices.
BERSIH 2.0 intends to liaise with the police in order to ensure a peaceful event. We hope that the police will extend their cooperation to us.
Yours sincerely,
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
Bersih 2.0 Chairperson
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin, Dr Subramaniam Pillay and Arul Prakkash.