We won't enter Dataran, says Janji Demokrasi organisers, after the gathering was declared illegal.
PETALING JAYA: Hours away from the Merdeka Day countdown celebrations, the organisers of the Janji Demokrasi gathering have received a stern police warning: don’t gather at Dataran Merdeka, it is illegal.
Gabungan Janji (Coalition of Promises) representative Hishamuddin Rais said, however, that this would not deter them from their mission to gather.
“Right, we’ll not break the law and won’t enter Dataran. But we can be everywhere, as near as possible, probably in Pasar Seni, wherever the nearest. We’ll be in Chinatown first,” he told FMT.
He urged all citizens that are attending to celebrate “anywhere and wherever”, as long as they wore yellow.
Hishamuddin said that his fellow committee member Maria Chin Abdullah received a notice (see below) from the Dang Wangi district police chief Zainuddin Ahmad stating that the gathering goes against the laws, based on the following reasons:
- Failure to provide notice to the Dang Wangi police chief under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA);
- Failure to obtain permission from the owner of the place of gathering under Section 11 of the PAA; and
- Will disrupt preparations made for Merdeka Day celebrations tomorrow.
When contacted, Zainuddin told FMT that he did not mean that Dataran Merdeka was “out of bounds”.
“But they need permission from City Hall. Let’s say, I want to stab you, if I didn’t, I would not have committed an offence, but if I did, then it is a wrong act. So if they go, it would be an offence, no?”
Hishamuddin said that the group “had not realised that we needed to ask police permission to celebrate independence day. That is strange”.
However, he said that the group “will not be confrontational”.
Janji Demokrasi is organised by a group of close to 50 non-governmental organisations. The gathering will be held between 11pm and 12am.
Although the main gathering will be held at the iconic Dataran Merdeka, there will be simultaneous gatherings in other states, including Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor. The organisers have disallowed banners, placards, and sound systems, but have urged participants to wear yellow.
While many of the members of Gabungan Janji are also key leaders of Bersih, the group has distanced itself from the popular electoral watchdog group.
National laureate A Samad Said, who is also the joint chairman of Bersih, will read a special poem on the evening.
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.