‘Not the govt’s business who supports Bersih’

Melissa-SasidaranPETALING JAYA: It is none of the government’s business who wants to support Bersih, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) legal and campaign coordinator Melissa Sasidaran said today.

Melissa said this in response to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who said yesterday that companies that provided funds for the Bersih 5 rally next month would be blacklisted from getting Federal Government contracts.

She said it was not the government’s business which companies supported the electoral reform group.

“The government cannot go on a witch hunt against civil servants or companies just for supporting the cause of Bersih as it is a legitimate people’s movement.

“It is not the government’s business who or what companies decide to lend their support as it is a personal and private decision stemming from their freedom of expression and association.

“The government may not agree with Bersih or its demands, but this is democracy,” Melissa told FMT.

Meanwhile, Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) Executive Director Cynthia Gabriel described Rahman’s proposal as “completely appalling”.

“His threats are purely political, with zero vision on how to manage business sentiments and investor confidence.

“Surely, as the EPU (Economic Planning Unit) minister, he must ensure a more balanced and vibrant climate.

“It is completely appalling. He could very well chase businesses away at this rate,” Cynthia told FMT.

She also expressed her concern over the “political violence” and bid to stop Bersih at all costs, saying Rahman did not want a “clean and accountable government”.

“That is Bersih’s call after all.”

Rahman said yesterday that he would request the EPU and the Public-Private Partnership Unit to scrutinise all companies that sought contracts from the Federal Government.

His remarks came in response to the Awang Selamat column in the Mingguan Malaysia newspaper which urged the government to penalise companies supporting Bersih.

Awang Selamat, a pseudonym for the paper’s group of editors, said companies which had reaped huge profits from government contracts were now conspiring to overthrow the ruling BN coalition government.

Bersih plans to hold a street rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 19 to demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak and to call for political reforms.