KOTA KINABALU, Aug 26 — The threat by the police to arrest participants of Bersih 4 here have only boosted T-shirt sales, the Sabah chapter of Bersih 2.0 said today.
Organising chairman Jannie Lasimbang said that the group was pleasantly surprised by the spur of interest in the Bersih 4 T-shirts following news reports on Monday citing state police commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman’s warning of possible arrests against rally participants.
“We received so many phone calls on Monday and yesterday asking about the T-shirts and buying them in bulk. They said that they were angry that police would ban the event and wanted to show support.
“We sold off most of the 1,000 T-shirts that we had in stock in the two days,” she told reporters here after handing out flyers at the Donggongon tamu, or local open market.
Lasimbang said that buyers included many groups as well as political parties who bought in large numbers.
“I’m glad but I also told them I hope they were not buying them as souvenirs and will actually wear it out when they come to support the event,” she said, adding that it was a good sign of support for the event that has been deemed “unlawful” by police.
Although the Kota Kinabalu City Hall and the police have denied their bid to use the Tanjung Lipat this weekend’s overnight rally, Sabah Bersih organisers have vowed to forge on with plans to occupy the public waterfront esplanade for the event.
The organisers will be meeting with police tomorrow at 3pm to hash out and “negotiate” more restrictions issued by the city police chief ACP Chandra Muthu.
“We will try our best to negotiate to carry out as much of our original plans as possible but at the same time respect their restrictions,” Lasimbang said, adding that they were prepared for any eventuality, including the cordoning off of roads to the park as well as arrests of the organisers.
“We are optimistic that it won’t get to that (organisers being arrested) but if it does, plans will still go on and even more people will rise in anger.
“It would be stupid of the government to use that kind of tactic to stop the rally,” she said.
In a statement later, Lasimbang also said she was envious of the Bersih 4 organisers in Kuching, Sarawak who were given the green light by Kuching police after agreeing to a venue change to the Song Kheng Kai Field.
“We are heartened by, and commend, the Kuching OCPD for allowing the peaceful assembly despite not getting an agreement from Kuching City Hall to use the Song Kheng Kai Field.
“The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) under Section 10, which stipulates the need to get agreement from owner, has been used in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia to declare Bersih 4 unlawful, but not in Kuching,” she said.
Lasimbang continued to assure the public that the event will proceed within the confines of the law and an “urgent arrest team” will provide legal assistance in the event of unlawful arrests.
She said the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia will be present during the rally to ensure no violation of human rights occur.
“They have also advised the police to act in a professional manner,” she said.