I have been reading with interest your response to the rally planned by Bersih next weekend.
The Bersih office was raided without a warrant. Individuals who were out distributing our Malaysian flags were detained. You were reported to have outlawed certain t-shirts (although we are still baffled at such a declaration since only the law can decide what is right and what is not). The IGP - the head of our police force - has even made references to shoes!!!!
The police in Georgetown have obtained a court ruling preventing people from attending 2 talks (see here).
This morning, we awoke to the news that sounds very much like a threat - that the police will take action against those who are taking part in the rally.
Let us get some things in perspective - what is this rally that is seemingly causing you so much fear and anxiety that you will resort to those above measures? It is not a rally calling people to overturn the government. It is not a rally asking people to commit crimes. It is not a rally to support hate and racism.
It is a rally asking that we have a clean election, one that is fair and just. Surely you cannot fault the organiser’s intentions.
Furthermore, you should know yourself that what they are planning to do is allowed in our Constitution. Even the Human Rights Commission of our country is of the view that it is the right of Malaysians to assemble and express their views in a peaceful manner (see here).
Should not the government be supportive of an initiative like this? The only people who would stand up against such an effort should be those who do not want a clean and fair elections.
If you are concerned about public order, the government and the police should be helping the organisers instead of harassing, threatening and antagonising them. Perhaps you can talk with the organisers and work out how best to have the rally. Perhaps roads may have to be closed for a period of time. But this is over the weekend. We have recently also experienced road closures due to the filming of a Hong Kong movie recently.
When I was in the UK in 2006, a group of Muslims were allowed to have a rally in the heart of London. The London police were dispatched to close some major roads and allowed these people to have their march. Their rights were respected, protected and fulfilled. I do not see why we cannot do the same thing here.
If it is really the concern of the government that there may be chaos and problems arising from this planned peaceful march, then that is the role of our police force to ensure that it is stopped. After all, there will always be such a risk when a large crowd of people assemble – in sports events, in shopping malls during sales, in night markets etc. But we do not stop these events because we recognise the right of people to participate in these events – how much more should the government support the participation of events which call for a fair and just election? Again, I will say those who oppose it must be afraid of having a clean election.
So please stop giving the impression that the government is afraid of a fair, clean and just election. Stop giving the impression that the government does not respect the human rights of Malaysians to assemble and express their views in a peaceful manner.
If any public disorder arises from the planned rally, the police and the government should be held responsible for it if they did not take reasonable steps to prevent it.
Thank you.*Track #5 from their album, Friction, Baby which was released in 1996.