Home Ministry insists Bersih threatens national ‘harmony, security, economy’, urges Malaysians to avoid Aug 29 rally

City police have prohibited the Bersih 4 rally on grounds that Bersih 2.0 did not obtain approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to hold it at Dataran Merdeka. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
City police have prohibited the Bersih 4 rally on grounds that Bersih 2.0 did not obtain approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to hold it at Dataran Merdeka. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — The Home Ministry warned Malaysians today not to join the Bersih 4 rally this weekend, accusing the organiser Bersih 2.0 of inciting Malaysians against the government and of possibly threatening national security.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim also said the ministry has found “Bersih 4.0” to be an unregistered body, likely referring to the polls reform group whose actual name is “Bersih 2.0”, despite the High Court here ruling in 2012 that the coalition of civil societies was legal.

“Bersih 4.0 was also found to spread propaganda to incite the ‘rakyat’ to react negatively to the government by distributing certain leaflets that can bring about damage,” Alwi said in a statement uploaded on the Home Ministry’s website.

“Through their various activities, they have affected the image of the country. In fact, they may be threatening public harmony, security, the economy and the country’s sovereignty, and even jeopardising the harmony of Malaysia’s multicultural society.

Therefore, the Home Ministry asks the public not to join the rally on August 29 and 30, which is organised by this unregistered body, that has not received approval from the authorities,” he added.

The overnight Bersih 4 rally scheduled this weekend at the city centre here, as well as in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Kuching in Sarawak, and in other cities across the world, aims to press for institutional reforms and to demand Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation amid the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy.

City police have prohibited the rally on grounds that Bersih 2.0 did not obtain approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to hold it at Dataran Merdeka, which the police dubbed as the “owner” of the public venue.

The Kota Kinabalu City Hall has similarly denied permission to the state’s Bersih 4 rally organisers to hold their demonstration at the Tanjung Lipat park, but Sarawak police agreed to the rally after organisers switched venues from Padang Merdeka to the Song Kheng Hai field.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), however, has said that the police and other enforcement authorities do not have the power to ban peaceful gatherings and told the authorities to protect rally participants instead. 

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