The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) reminds the authorities that it is the constitutional right of the Rakyat to assemble peacefully as it is part and parcel of a functioning democracy. The police is duty-bound to uphold the Federal Constitution by facilitating such assemblies by ensuring the safety of participants and controlling traffic.
We are dismayed by the heavy-handed actions of the police officers who obstructed the gathering to handover memorandum by a group of farmers and activists outside Parliament yesterday. This is uncalled for as peaceful assembly to pass a memorandum to Parliamentarians is a democratic norm that should be facilitated, not obstructed, by the authorities. We call on the Parliament and authorities to facilitate future assemblies to pass memorandums in a peaceful and orderly manner, whether outside or inside the Parliament.
We would also like to correct a reported statement by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay that the rally organizer for the September 16 rally to protest against Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s DNAA must apply for a permit from the authorities 5 days before the date of assembly. This is factually incorrect as the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 only required rally organizers to notify the authorities, not apply for permit or approval like in the old days.
As proven by many rallies, in particular Bersih 4 and Bersih 5, peaceful rallies are possible even with minimal facilitation by the the police. We call on the police to carry out their duties professionally by providing all necessary assistance to rally organizers so that they can exercise their democratic rights.
Finally, we remind those in power of their promise to the Rakyat during the 15th General Election that they have canvassed for the Rakyat’s vote based on a pledge to revise and repeal the provisions of oppressive acts that can be misused to restrict freedom of expression. Realignment of coalition politics do not negate that promise to the Rakyat, and we hope they will fulfil and uphold that pledge.
BERSIH Steering Committee