The home minister has asked the organisers to be realistic about finding a venue that will not disrupt the public.
KUALA LUMPUR: With the previous high-handed actions against the Bersih 2.0 rally bruising the Najib administration’s public image, the government now appears to be taking a more softer stance with regard to the electoral watchdog’s next rally slated for April 28.
Commenting on the issue, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government would not prevent the upcoming rally but remained coy on whether it could be held at Dataran Merdeka.
He added that the rally was not considered a security issue but urged the organisers to hold a discussion with the police to determine an appropriate venue so that it would not interfere with the daily lives of the public.
“We want to give freedom for them to gather but do not jeopardise the status of peace. We’re allowing them to have it but don’t affect people at large,” he told reporters in Parliament.
“Since Bersih 2.0 (held in last July) we have already tabled the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) and based on the spirit of the Act, the government will not stop Bersih 3.0.
“But make sure you don’t cause a nuisance to the public and jeopordise public peace. Whether it is Dataran Merdeka or some other place, I think the police are reasonable,” he added.
Hishammuddin said if Bersih was sincere in wanting to gather and not affect others, then the organisers should be realistic in finding an appropriate location.
No street protest
Asked about Himpunan Hijau 2.0’s plan to march from KLCC on the same day, the minister said that a street protest cannot be allowed as it would disrupt the public.
“What’s the use of having the Act if we allow street protests, that is a basic thing. If that is their purpose, eventhough we suggset a proper and reasonable location, then it means that their reason is to cause chaos. The rakyat will punish them,” he said.
“Please negotiate with the police. If they insist and there is no compromise, then people will question why they are so adamant,” he added.
Himpunan Hijau is protesting against the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin confirmed that the PAA had yet to be gazetted but said that the spirit of the Act was enforced during the Anwar Ibrahim rally at the Jalan Duta courts in January.
“In that instance, we were very reasonable even though people said it was a security risk to allow them to gather in front of the court,” he added, referring to the judgment date for the opposition leader’s sodomy case.