Questioning protestors’ morals an insult, Bersih tells Rais
KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Bersih accused Datuk Seri Rais Yatim of insulting members of the public who joined its April 28 rally for free and fair elections after he suggested they needed to read the newly-launched 1 Malaysia Moral guide instead of rioting and being violent.
The electoral reform movement said in a statement today the comment made by the information, communication and culture minister “was biased because he said nothing about the police personnel who indulged in brutality against the public.”
“Rais... suggested Bersih supporters who had ‘rioted, been rough and violent’ should be given a copy of this book. This is a direct insult to 250,000 Malaysian citizens and their family members,” the coalition of 84 NGOs said.
Rais (picture) had said on Thursday that participants of the rally, which had descended into chaos after police and protestors openly clashed in the streets of the capital, should study the 21 values in the guide, such as patience, discipline, respect, cleanliness, integrity, humility, courtesy and loyalty.
“To our friends who on April 28 at Dataran Merdeka and in front of the Information, Communication, and Culture Ministry (office), who had rioted, been rough and violent, give them a copy of this book,” he said at the launch of the guide.
Top Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein have also called the rally an attempted coup and an effort to destabilise the country by trying to cause violence and even death.
But Bersih said today it is clear that these ministers “have all missed the point that the public wants a credible, independent and impartial inquiry” into the violence that occurred on April 28.
The April 28 rally that saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih leader Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her announcement was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted to linger around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons. Police then continued to pursue rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.
The police car then crashed into a building before some protestors flipped it on its side.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali have been accused of ordering the breach and are currently awaiting trial under the Peaceful Assembly Act for participating in an illegal street assembly.