Facilitate, not hinder peaceful rallies – Bersih tells govt

Bersih has urged the powers that be to facilitate rallies, instead of hindering them, as it is the constitutional right of the people to assemble peacefully.

The electoral reform group cited the police’s decision to block a group of farmers from Chemor, Perak, from marching to Parliament yesterday to deliver their petition against their eviction to make way for development.

“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 hand over a memorandum by a group of farmers and activists outside Parliament yesterday.

“This is uncalled for as peaceful assembly to pass memorandums to parliamentarians is a democratic norm that should be facilitated, not obstructed, by the authorities,” Bersih’s steering committee said in a statement today.

Moving forward, Parliament and the authorities should facilitate future assemblies to pass memorandums in a peaceful and orderly manner, whether inside or outside the august House, the group added.

‘Remember your promise to rakyat’

Bersih also slammed Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay for urging any party planning to hold a rally to apply for permits five days before the gathering, under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay

“This is factually incorrect as the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 only required rally organisers to notify the authorities, not apply for permit or approval like in the old days,” Bersih said.

The group pointed out that holding peaceful rallies, such as Bersih’s fourth and fifth rallies, is possible even with minimal facilitation by the police.

“We call on the police to carry out their duties professionally by providing all necessary assistance to rally organisers 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 does not negate that promise to the rakyat, and we hope they will fulfil and uphold that pledge,” Bersih stated.

(First published by Malaysiakini on 13 September 2023: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/679077)