Malaysia

Government cannot stop us, says Bersih

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Bersih has insisted that the government has no right to stop its rally at Stadium Merdeka tomorrow despite last-minute attempts to secure the venue coming to nought.

The electoral reforms movement also called for Malaysians to show their patriotism and stand up against what it called the lack of principle shown by the Najib administration.

“No government agency has any right whatsoever to prevent Malaysians from exercising their freedom of movement and access to our capital city.

“Malaysians have now seen the degree of paranoia and lack of principled leadership that seems to have gripped the government. It is imperative that patriotic Malaysians rise now and take this stand together to save Malaysia from slipping further into this insane darkness,” it said.

In a statement released this evening, the coalition of 62 NGOs accused the authorities of putting “obstacle after obstacle where they only needed to provide sincere cooperation to win the trust and confidence of the people.”

“Half-hearted offers of stadiums, arrogance regarding meetings, denials of permits, arrests, detentions ... we feel that we have done all that is humanly possible to demonstrate sincerity and good faith in dealing with the government — but we have only been met with reversed decisions and stone walls,” it said.

Dang Wangi police told the movement today that it would not allow the gathering to be held at the stadium, a day after city police had obtained a court order barring 14 of its leaders along with 77 others from Umno Youth, Perkasa and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) from entering the capital tomorrow.

Cabinet ministers and the police have told Bersih to take its rally outside Kuala Lumpur despite the coalition accepting on Tuesday the government’s offer to move its street protest to a stadium.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s offer came after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had stepped in on Sunday to defuse tension by advising Putrajaya and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.

But the Najib administration still considers the movement illegal and the police have continued to make arrests in connection with the rally, most of which revolve around yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih emblazoned on them.

The police have also promised that they will act against any Bersih-related activity, even up to Saturday’s rally as long as it was still not a legally registered outfit.

“The Bersih 2.0 leadership reiterates our own unyielding commitment to our shared cause, and to being at Stadium Merdeka at 2pm tomorrow. We will meet at the car park, and trust that the doors will be opened for us,” Bersih added.

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