Malaysia

Court orders Hisham to state if Bersih still banned

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
April 25, 2012
Latest Update: April 25, 2012 08:37 pm

Hishammuddin outlawed Bersih 2.0 in the run-up to its July 9, 2011 rally but now appears to no longer consider it to be a “security threat”. — File picHishammuddin outlawed Bersih 2.0 in the run-up to its July 9, 2011 rally but now appears to no longer consider it to be a “security threat”. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — The High Court here has ordered the home minister to clarify his stand on the Bersih 2.0 movement, saying that his recent remarks differed from a ban he instituted a year ago.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had last year declared electoral reform movement Bersih 2.0 as an illegal organisation, which resulted in heavy government clampdown on July 9, the day of its previous rally.

In response, Bersih, led by co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, filed a legal suit to challenge the government’s ban on the movement.

Lawyer Aston Paiva, who is representing Bersih, said that Justice Datuk Rohana Yusuf had sought clarification from senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad and ordered the home minister to file an affidavit on the matter by May 10.

“(The) judge (has) taken notice of recent activity, (and is) concerned on the position of home minister on Bersih. He (Hishammuddin) seems to be alright on Bersih’s activities, (but yet it) seems to be banned... his (recent) conduct says otherwise.

“(The) judge can only make a decision with his position (clarified),” Paiva told reporters. “She has ordered the minister produce an affidavit clarifying his stand on Bersih.”

Paiva said the judge could not reconcile last year’s ban with Hishammuddin’s recent, less hostile stance towards the movement.

The minister recently said the Bersih was not a security threat, and even pledged to assist the electoral reforms group to procure Stadium Merdeka as a venue for its upcoming April 28 rally.

Rohana will deliver a decision on May 15- whether to allow Bersih's application to cross-examine Hishammuddin and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

She will also decide on whether Bersih's lawyers will be allowed access to 1.706 police reports filed against the reforms group just before last year's July 9 rally.

"She will decide on disclosure on police reports. Last year the Home Minister had said there were over 1,700 police reports," added Paiva.

Bersih said early this month a third rally, scheduled to be held this Saturday was necessary to warn Malaysians that the country is about to face its "dirties" polls to date.

Bersih's eight demands are a clean electoral roll, reforming postal voting, the use of indelible ink, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, free access to the media, strengthening public institutions, stopping corruption and ending dirty politics.