Tan: Use a stadium, Maria can’t guarantee Bersih safety

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KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah cannot guarantee public safety, Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang claimed today.

After having made an initial offer to provide a stadium for Bersih 5, Tan today reiterated his stand against rallies being held in the streets, saying that it compromises public safety.

“All it takes is one person to spark the fire, and chaos will erupt. Maria (Chin) always uses last year’s Bersih rally as an example; but what about 2012?” said Tan at a press conference at Gerakan headquarters today.

He clarified that Gerakan Youth was not only helping to locate a stadium, but would also gather sponsors so that Bersih 2.0 could hold the demonstration free of charge.

“We see no reason why it cannot be done in a stadium,” said Tan.

He also questioned Bersih 2.0’s intentions of having the demonstration in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, asking if Bersih 2.0’s intentions were to create chaos.

“I don’t care what your intentions are, I don’t care what your objective is. Bersih changes its objective every year anyway.

“Our priority is to ensure public safety. Maria always says that it will be peaceful, but people suffer from traffic jams, businesses cannot open, there will be fewer tourists and things like that.

“Who is Maria Chin to ensure public safety?” said Tan.

He added that Gerakan Youth would do the same for the “red shirt rally” by pro-Umno demonstrators, insisting that they would take no sides.

“If the ‘red shirts’ want to do it, we will sponsor them as well; but of course in a different stadium to avoid chaos and violence,” said Tan.

Last week, Chin turned down Tan’s initial offer to have the Bersih 5 rally in a stadium, saying that it is unreasonable” to restrict protesters and demonstrators to a fixed location.

“A protest is an expression of anger. They should be able to do it anywhere. I think it is unreasonable to request that they only protest in a stadium, under a roof, and so on,” she said.

Tan disputed Chin’s statements. He questioned whether Chin had actually tabled the suggestion to the entire Bersih 2.0 organisation, or made the decision herself.

“I hope she tables this suggestion to the 60 plus NGOs (non-governmental organisations) that they claim to have. Bersih is not just Maria alone,” said Tan.