Malaysia

Bersih says rally must go on

By Shannon Teoh
April 24, 2012
Latest Update: April 24, 2012 09:15 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Electoral reform movement Bersih maintained today it will proceed with its third rally for free and fair elections at Dataran Merdeka and 11 other cities nationwide this Saturday.

Co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan told a press conference that a meeting with the 84 civil societies that make up the coalition last night "decided unanimously to proceed with Dataran Merdeka" despite threats of action by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The authorities have also offered Bersih several other venues, such as the stadium in Cheras, another in Titiwangsa and the historic Stadium Merdeka, to hold their sit-down protest.

However, Ambiga said Bersih would have moved to Stadium Merdeka had KL Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail made the offer yesterday “but he seemed to retract the home minister’s invitation,” referring to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s offer on Sunday.

Ahmad Fuad instead said permission had been granted for Bersih to use the Cheras football stadium or Stadium Titiwangsa, a claim the coalition denies.

“We cannot make any changes anymore. It is only four days left and we cannot have people in a state of confusion,” she said.

City police have also rejected Bersih’s request for help with traffic control, citing security reasons.

“The police seemed to reject not just Dataran Merdeka but Bersih 3.0. I don’t know if they got the memo from the home minister who seems supportive,” she said.

The former Malaysian Bar president stressed that the movement still “wants to work with the police and DBKL” and would write to both parties today to seek a meeting.

Failing which, Bersih has already made contingency plans for security and logistics, she said.

Steering committee member Hishamuddin Rais also said participants coming from outside the city should assemble at one of six locations at 1.30pm before heading to the historic square.

The six meeting points are Pasar Seni, Brickfields, Jalan Sultan, Masjid India, the National Mosque and Suria KLCC, where environmental group Himpunan Hijau is planning to gather before joining Bersih at Dataran Merdeka.

The steering committee also said at today’s press conference that 72 cities globally would also be holding Bersih gatherings.