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Groups meet cops over Merdeka gatherings

 | August 27, 2012

Two groups, the Bersih-styled Coalition of Promises (Gabungan Janji) and the Preservation of Jalan Sultan Committee (PJSC), will hold separate gatherings on the eve of National Day.

FULL REPORT

KUALA LUMPUR: The police today summoned organisers from two different lobby groups planning to hold “celebratory gatherings” on the eve of National Day on Aug 31.

The Bersih-styled Coalition of Promises (Gabungan Janji) and the Preservation of Jalan Sultan Committee (PJSC) met with the Dang Wangi district police and held a dialogue about both gatherings — one to be held at Dataran Merdeka at 10pm and the other at Jalan Sultan at 8.30pm respectively.

Representing Gabungan Janji, Maria Chin Abdullah, also a Bersih steering committee member and Empower executive director, said she met with district police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad together with PJSC co-chair Stanley Yong for about an hour.

“Our events are separate, but they are simply two ways to celebrate Merdeka Day. To gather in friendship and harmony and celebration,” she said.

Both appealed to the authorities to allow the two “historic” events to proceed without restrictions and provide security.

“We will, on our part, try to minimise inconvenience and allow this to be a celebration,” said Maria.

Asked if the police had given the “green light”, Maria said the briefing was positive and “jovial” but added that the police were not specific about giving their approval for the events.

“He was briefing us about the Peaceful Assembly Act and procedures, and that they will monitor the situation. He also advised us to take precautions,” she added.

Both sides today pledged again that they would maintain public order, and welcomed the offer by police to deploy men to control the crowd and traffic on that day.

PJSC’s “Merdeka March for Jalan Sultan” will meet in front of Gospel Hall in Jalan Hang Jebat and march via Jalan Sultan to the old Klang bus station.

The group, which today said that it would refrain from talking too much about the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) project, hopes that the gathering will garner support towards the preservation of heritage buildings.

The “Gabungan Janji”, organised by close to 50 non-governmental organisations, will gather at Dataran Merdeka while clad in yellow on the eve of National Day. The group had previously said that it was a separate entity from Bersih 2.0, despite many of its members being key leaders of the popular electoral watchdog group.

Asked if the gatherings – which would be simultaneously held in other states including Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor – would allow people to wear yellow T-shirts with the “Bersih” logo, Maria said they cannot stop anyone from doing that. She also said police did not specifically mention any prohibitions on that day.

The group had announced that no banners, placards or sound system would be allowed.

These “pro-democracy” gatherings aim to ask the government to fully implement Bersih’s eight demands, such as cleaning up the electoral roll, using indelible ink, a minimum period of 21 days for campaigning, free access to the media for all parties, strengthening public institutions, stopping corruption and bringing an end to dirty political campaigning.

Also being demanded is for the government to uphold the Federal Constitution and allow for greater reforms, both of which the government has failed to do so far, according to the group.

National literary laureate, A Samad Said, who is also the joint chairman of Bersih, will read a special poem on the evening of Aug 30.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who had predicted a low turnout for the Janji Democracy gathering, had said that organisers must adhere to the rules and get the nod first from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to hold any event at Dataran Merdeka.

Attempts to call DBKL and police to verify their positions on the events were unsuccessful.


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