Bersih: The Threat and Intimidation Continues.

Bersih: The Threat and Intimidation Continues.

Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia | Jul 03, 2011 at 5:09 AM PDT
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Police manhandled Pakatan Rakyat supporters at March 8 anniversary rally

Malaysia rearrested Socialist Party of Malaysia Member of Parliament of Sungai Siput Dr.Michael Jayakumar Danaraj and five other detainees after their release from detention under the draconian law of the Penal Code of Section 122 which reads “Whoever collects or attempts to collect men, arms or ammunition, or otherwise prepares to wage war with the intention of either waging or being prepared to wage war against the Yang Di Pertuan Agong or any of the Rulers or the Yang Di Pertua Negeri or abets the waging or the preparation of such war, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Just for distributing flyers for the rally.

According to Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar who told reporters that they were rearrested at 1.20pm on Saturday 1st July 2011, under Section 3(1) of the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 which reads ,” Any person arrested and detained under this section may be detained in police custody for a period not exceeding sixty-days without an order of detention having been made in respect of him under section 4 (1) and can be detained with the Ministers pleasure for two years or until he deemed it necessary ”at Kepala Batas Police Station Penang. They were arrested for promoting the Bersih rally together with their bus load of activist last week.

In tandem with Government’s phobia against the planned rally, the Home Affairs Minister Datuk Sri Hishamudin Tun Hussain announced the outlawing of the Bersih Movement, a coalition of 62 Non Government Organizations electoral watchdog effective from 1st July 3, 2011.

Bersih which means clean in the Malay language and acronym for the coalition of NGO’s for electoral reform is demanding the immediate implementation of their eight point reform listed below.

1) Clean the electoral roll

2) Reform postal ballot

3) Use of indelible ink

4) Minimum 21 days campaign period

5) Free and fair access to media

6) Strengthen public institutions

7) Stop corruption

8) Stop dirty politics

The planned rally on the 9th of July 2011 by Bersih for the electoral reforms has pushed the Government to the defensive in introducing harsh measures to derail the demonstrations which has earlier in 2007 precipitated the ruling BN to lose its two third Majority and unprecedented electoral defeat.

The government has started the unleashing of their aggressive clampdown on the organizers, the Bersih Secretariat was raided without a search warrant, and statements recorded from the staff on the 30th June. The national Literary Laureate Pak Samad Said was summoned for investigating for sedition for his poems, Mat Sabu the Deputy President of Pas, and other members of the Bersih coalition were called for recording of their statements. The Chief Minister of Malacca Datuk Seri Ali Rustam has called for the stripping of the citizenship of Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan the Chairperson of Bersih , she has been portrayed as anti Islamic and a Hindu infidel woman out to exploit and degrade and sow disunity among the Malays.

Friday sermons on the 1st of July in mosques throughout Kuala Lumpur and the Federal Territories demonized the Bersih rally as haram and against Islam. The national Malay Daily owned by Umno, Utusan Malaysia has congratulated the government’s crackdown on pro democracy supporters, where to date hundreds have been detained and charged. Pro government supporters who have openly pledged support to the Governments stand like Ibrahim Ali, the leader of Perkasa, who promised bloodshed if the rally is carried out, is enjoying full immunity. The demonstration against the Chief Minister of Penang organized by Perkasa and other pro Umno organizations after the Friday prayers at the Pitt Street Kapitan Keling Mosque in Penang was tolerated by the police with only some cosmetic arrest. This alarming double standard of the police in selective persecution is winning more converts to Bersih cause, with groundswell of support from the people to the chagrin of the government.

The opposition leader Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim and veteran opposition Law Maker Lim Kit Siang has condemned the banning of Bersih and the re arresting of Dr Jayakumar under the archaic Cold War laws like Essential Ordinance, and the continuing arrest and intimidation as a despicable attempt in salvaging a failed state. In their desperation in preventing the planned street demonstration the Royal Malaysian Police has outlawed the yellow T shirts with the word Bersih, and there are widespread arrests for wearing shirts with Bersih logo. Road blocks have been placed by the Police in the entrance and exit of all towns throughout West Malaysia starting 2nd of July, in threatening and intimidating the people from not participating in the planned rally.

International Human Right organization has condemned this blatant abuse of freedom of speech, to quote Donna Guest Deputy Asia-Pacific Director of Amnesty International. “This repression is clearly politically motivated to intimidate people from marching for electoral reform; the use of repressive laws to criminalize peaceful political activism is appalling.”

Malaysia’s Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, threatened on 26 June to invoke the Internal Security Act against rally organizers, on the grounds of national security. There is a general fear among the people that the arrest and intimidation of opposition is a prelude for more draconian measures like mass arrest of people connected to Bersih under ISA like the Operation Lallang in 1987. The preemptive clampdown of dissent is widely speculated to be followed by the eventful proclamation of an emergency in Kuala Lumpur. The government’s determination to neutralize the rally, with all their might, whether they succeed or fail will have severe repercussion to the ruling elite in Kuala Lumpur for now or the future. It will be a tainted episode in the history of Malaysia.

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A Libyan protester carries posters of Khadifi during a rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A Libyan protester carries posters of Khadifi during a rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
MichaelPNayagam is based in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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