Malaysia

Bersih to meet cops soon over rally plans

By Clara Chooi
April 06, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Bersih 2.0 will seek a meeting with the police next week, its co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today, expressing hope that they would offer security assistance for the coming rally.

She told The Malaysian Insider that the police have yet to contact her or any of Bersih 2.0’s leaders since the rally date was announced on Wednesday.

“But we are planning to (meet with them), very shortly, some time next week, we will.

“They have not asked to see us,” she said when contacted.

Ambiga (picture), who last year was in a stand-off with the police and was even arrested over Bersih 2.0’s second such rally, repeated that the group would not compromise on the venue for this year’s protest.

“Nope. We have no alternative locations. But we are still hoping that the police will work with us to ensure that it turns out to be a peaceful event,” she said.

She stressed that Bersih 2.0’s plan was only to conduct the sit-in protest (Duduk Bantah) for two hours from 2pm to 4pm at Dataran Merdeka.

“We do not want it to go past the stipulated two-hour time frame,” she said.

Last year’s rally saw the election watchdog clash with the authorities and resulted in over 1,600 arrests both before and during the event.

The police and Home Ministry had at the time refused to allow Bersih 2.0 to use Merdeka Stadium for the rally, and had suggested instead that the group relocate its plans to a location outside the capital.

But Bersih 2.0 had pressed on, and despite the attempts by the authorities on July 9 to stop participants from entering the city, the event still drew thousands to the streets.

Huge teams of riot police were then deployed to disperse protestors with tear gas and chemical-laced water but shortly after the event ended, Bersih leaders declared the rally a success.