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Bersih 2.0 gets leave to challenge unlawful order

September 28, 2011

High Court fixed Nov 22 to hear the merit of the judicial review.


KUALA LUMPUR: The steering committee of Bersih 2.0 today obtained leave from the High Court to challenge the order declaring it an unlawful society.

Judge Rohana Yusuf, who made the decision in chambers, allowed the leave application of the committee for a judicial review to quash the decision.

The court set Nov 22 to hear the merit of the judicial review.

On July 8, 14 members of the committee, including S Ambiga, filed the leave application naming the Home Minister, Inspector-General of Police and the government as respondents.

They are seeking an order of certiorari to remove the order dated July 1 by the Home Minister declaring Bersih 2.0 an unlawful society and an order to quash it forthwith.

They also want a declaration that the order is null and void and of no effect.

Ambiga, who is chairman of the committee, told reporters that the judge had granted them leave to seek to quash the decision and have the order declared null and void.

However, Ambiga said, the judge denied the leave application for an order prohibiting the respondents from entering and searching their premises as well as an order to compel the respondents to release the T-shirts, placards, newspapers, books, banners and any other documents or objects belonging to them which were seized by the police.

Ambiga said that she was happy with the ruling as it related to an executive order.

Senior Federal Counsel Kamaluddin Md Said, representing the respondents, said that he will get instructions from his superiors on whether to appeal against the ruling.

In the application, the committee claimed that the order decreed that the Bersih movement was declared an unlawful society because it was allegedly “being used for purposes prejudicial to the interests of the security of Malaysia and public order”.

Bersih 2.0, the committee contended, was substantively different from the movement known simply as Bersih which was launched in 2007 and comprised political parties and civil society organisations.

Bersih 2.0, it said, consisted solely of civil society organisations and was launched in November last year.

The applicants claimed that the order was illegal because Bersih 2.0 was substantively different from Bersih, and that Bersih, as it originally stood, no longer existed.

Home Minister should revoke order

In a statement issued later, Ambiga, on behalf of Bersih’s steering committee members, welcomed the court decision, saying that it was “absolutely vital” in a democracy that courts “allow the scrutiny of executive powers” and allow citizens who are effected by them to challenge them fairly.

She also said the decision today was “an open order for the (Home) Minister, (Hishammuddin Hussein) to revoke the order (to ban Bersih) immediately” as it was inconsistent with the prime minister’s vision to make Malaysia the “best democracy” in the world.

“It is wholly inconsistent with the policy of liberalisation that has been announced, and with the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (to look into electoral reforms), for an order that outlaws Bersih”.



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