Malaysia

Thumbing nose at Hisham, Khairy says march goes on

Khairy said the decision to march was made unanimously by the Umno Youth executive committee. — file pic Khairy said the decision to march was made unanimously by the Umno Youth executive committee. — file pic KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Khairy Jamaluddin said today that Umno Youth will still march on July 9, in defiance of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s warning that police will act against the illegal gathering.

The Umno Youth chief said that his predecessor “can warn us all he wants” but “Pemuda will continue come what may.”

“My Pemuda and I are ready to face whatever consequences. This is a new Malaysia. We have a right to assembly guaranteed by the constitution. Umno Youth will be marching on 9 July. And that’s that,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The Rembau MP said yesterday that the movement will join the fray on July 9 to “strengthen the democratic system”, and rival electoral reform group Bersih 2.0’s rally on the same day.

Perkasa has also claimed that 36 NGOSs will join the Malay rights group in an anti-Bersih march on the same day.

Hishammuddin, who relinquished the chairmanship of Umno Youth in 2009, said today that the Youth wing’s decision did not represent Umno’s stand.

“It doesn’t matter whether I’m former Pemuda chief or not. They will have to face whatever consequences [for] their action. Nobody is above the law,” the Umno vice president warned earlier today.

But Khairy said the rally will go ahead as it was a unanimous decision made by the entire Youth executive committee.

“It was not my unilateral decision. We feel strongly that we need to march to show that the voice of the people is not monopolised by the opposition,” he said.

Bersih is an election watchdog group that is pushing for electoral reforms to provide for free and fair elections in Malaysia.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties and activists are gearing up to march next month in the second such rally by Bersih, the first being in 2007 when up to 50,000 were reported to have gathered in the capital, with many being dispersed by water cannons and tear gas fired by the police.

PAS has promised to bring 300,000 protestors this year in hopes that it will galvanise support for the opposition in the general election expected within the year.

The 2007 rally was said to play a big role in bringing record gains for the opposition electoral pact in Election 2008, where it swept five state governments and won 82 parliamentary seats.

Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia has urged Malaysians to march against Bersih.

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