Malaysia

Have cops work with Bersih, Lim tells Hisham

A policeman guards a stage that was sealed off by authorities to prevent a scheduled Bersih roadshow, in Petaling Jaya, June 24, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiA policeman guards a stage that was sealed off by authorities to prevent a scheduled Bersih roadshow, in Petaling Jaya, June 24, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiKUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein should direct the police to end its “hostile” stance towards the Bersih rally and work with its organisers instead, Lim Kit Siang said today.

The DAP parliamentary leader said mutual co-operation between the two would ensure a peaceful assembly on June 9.

“Hishammuddin should direct the police to end its hostile, combative, confrontational and repressive stance against the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 and to undergo a sea-change for the police to co-operate with the Bersih 2.0 organisers to ensure that the peaceful Bersih 2.0 rally is held successfully,” said Lim in a statement today.

The veteran politician pointed out that the police have begun arresting people for simply wearing the yellow Bersih t-shirts, reportedly the reason for deputy PKR Youth chief Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin’s arrest last night.

Police have, however, denied arresting him, saying they merely wanted to take down his statement.

Lim also called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to embrace the July 9 rally to show that Malaysia was mature enough to handle mass public gatherings.

“The Malaysian prime minister at the time and other Umno leaders had praised these worldwide anti-war peaceful protests.

“Why, then, are the Umno and [Barisan Nasional] leaders in the year 2011 so silent and not prepared to help to ensure the successful holding of a peaceful Bersih 2.0 rally for free, fair and clean elections, especially if it is to set a new record in Malaysia for crowd turnout?” Lim asked.

Police insist Bersih will not be issued a permit to gather on July 9, and that authorities will treat the planned rally as an illegal assembly.

The first rally in 2007 saw up to 50,000 people take to the capital’s street before they were dispersed by police armed with tear gas and water cannons.

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