KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — Electoral reform pressure group Bersih 2.0 questioned the authorities today if they will be cast in the dock next after the Court of Appeal yesterday overturned a previous ruling, effectively criminalising any rally organiser that fails to provide a 10-day notice ahead of the event.
The electoral reform group also questioned if the appellate court had been pressured into its judgment yesterday, pointing out that the right to assemble is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
“Bersih 2.0 sees the court’s decision as an insult to the right to assemble and speak that is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, and is an effort to stop the right to protest as demanded in the Bersih 4 rally over a month ago,” the group said in a statement.
“Are there external factors pushing the court to make a ruling like that? Will Bersih 2.0, as the organiser of the peaceful Bersih 4 rally, be dragged to court in no time?” the group asked.
The statement also urged Malaysians to question the “U-turn” decision of the appellate court.
The Court of Appeal yesterday convicted R. Yuneswaran for breaching the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) when he failed to give a 10-day notice ahead of PKR’s May 5, 2013 “Blackout 505” rally, and was ordered to pay a RM6,000 fine.
Yuneswaran’s lead lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah told reporters later that day, however, that the judgment went against the precedent set by the same court previously that had acquitted PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who was similarly charged under Section 9 (5) of the PAA.
The verdict, Sivarasa said, effectively criminalises any rally that is held without providing authorities with a 10-day notice.
The group also reiterated their request for democratic space in Malaysia, namely allowing leaders to be held accountable to the public, and again asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to allow for a vote of no-confidence in Parliament.
The two-day Bersih 4 rally was held late last month to demand Najib take responsibility over his debt-riddled brainchild, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and resign from office.