Malaysia

Bersih wants supporters freed, RCI on election practices

By Shannon Teoh

July 06, 2011
Latest Update: July 06, 2011 08:57 pm

She also added that Bersih is “horrified” that police are continuing with arrests and charges despite Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s call for negotiations between the movement and the government.

“It is only proper that they stand down and the topmost priority is to release all those arrested,” Ambiga told a press conference today.

The former Bar Council president also said that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “heard us out” on the issues in yesterday’s audience.

“In the spirit of reconciliation, we accepted the offer of a stadium in good faith,” Ambiga (picture) said,

The prime minister said yesterday that he was willing to negotiate on a suitable venue with Bersih for their July 9 rally after the electoral reform movement accepted the government’s offer to allow the gathering to take place in a stadium.

The coalition of 62 NGOs agreed yesterday to move a street protest into a stadium and said today that it wants to hold it in the 50,000-seater Stadium Merdeka from 2 to 4pm.

However, Ambiga clarified that these demands would be an ongoing process but the stadium “rally on July 9 will go on no matter what.”

“I know that Jayakumar will want us to continue,” she said, referring to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) MP who is being detained under the Emergency Ordinance along with five party members.

The police have also arrested more than 100 people in connection with the rally, most of them for wearing yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih emblazoned on them in a clampdown that has also seen Bersih being declared illegal.

But Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin stepped in on Sunday to defuse tension by advising the Najib administration and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.

Other demands by Bersih included the end of arrests to supporters, for the public to be allowed to wear yellow in support of the movement and for its eight-point recommendations on improving the election system to be implemented before the next general election.

Ambiga also said that the proposed royal commission should look into the weaknesses of the current electoral system and have representatives from all stakeholders.