Malaysia

Bersih T-shirts illegal, declares Hisham

By Shannon Teoh
June 29, 2011

Yellow T-shirts are displayed during the launch of Bersih in Petaling Jaya, June 19, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiYellow T-shirts are displayed during the launch of Bersih in Petaling Jaya, June 19, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiPUTRAJAYA, June 29 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today T-shirts with messages in support of Bersih have been outlawed because they were related to an illegal assembly.

“The Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal assembly, then whatever they are wearing is illegal,” he told reporters.

Police officers have been arresting activists and opposition members wearing Bersih T-shirts ahead of next weekend’s rally and counter rallies organised by Umno Youth and Perkasa, all of which the government has said will not be given police permits.

However, the Bersih organisation has not been declared illegal nor has the word “Bersih” been gazetted as such.

Hishammuddin did not mention today under what law the T-shirts would be considered illegal.

Speaking at a press conference here, he also rejected claims that the police clampdown on those supporting the July 9 march for electoral reforms was politically motivated.

“On whose part? I can ask the same thing to them,” he said, implying that it was Pakatan Rakyat (PR) who were politicising police action related to the Bersih rally.

The Umno vice president also promised that action will be taken against the Umno Youth members who had surrounded the PKR headquarters on Monday, when they allegedly threatened to burn down the office.

“I told the police to treat them as with Bersih. Nobody is above the law,” he said.

Police officers have also raided the Bersih office in Petaling Jaya today, according to steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah.

She told reporters here in Parliament that 20 policemen were currently raiding the premises, and claimed that a search warrant was not issued prior to the raid.

Activists under Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component parties are gearing up for the rally this July 9, the second such gathering calling for electoral reforms.

The first rally, also organised by Bersih, was held in 2007 and saw some 50,000 people take to the capital’s streets.

The gathering eventually dispersed, however, and resulted in chaos when the police deployed tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators.

The historic event has been partly credited for PR’s record gains in Election 2008, when the opposition pact was swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.