Court of Appeal allows Bersih 2.0's appeal, quashes T-shirt ban

Bersih 4 rally participants brave the rain as they listen to speeches in downtown Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Bersih 4 rally participants brave the rain as they listen to speeches in downtown Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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PUTRAJAYA, Aug 29 — The Court of Appeal today allowed Bersih 2.0's appeal against the High Court's rejection of their lawsuit challenging the Home Minister's ban on Bersih 4 rally T-shirts last year, and quashed the ban at the same time.

The panel led by Justice Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh said they agreed with lawyer Edmund Bon's submission, adding the Home Minister's order for the ban was “unreasonable.”

“The order is unreasonable. We agreed with the submission... we allowed the appeal,” Mohd Zawawi said in the courtroom here.

The High Court on February rejected Bersih 2.0's challenge to the Home Minister's ban of the Bersih 4 T-shirt, saying the order was within the ministry's jurisdiction.

Earlier in his submission, Bon argued that the Home Minister’s reasons for the ban were “irrelevant” given that situations such as the September 16 ‘Red Shirts’ rally happened after the ban was made.

“These grounds were an afterthought. The Minister had taken into account irrelevant considerations and acted irrationally,” he said.

Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah later told reporters that she hoped the authorities would drop cases of people arrested for wearing Bersih 4 T-shirt after today’s decision.

“People have been arrested for wearing the Bersih 4 T-shirt and it is not just in Malaysia. People from Brunei, Abu Dhabi and Dubai... and this is very unjustifiable. I hope at least Malaysians here who were arrested, their case should be dropped immediately based on this decision,” Chin said.

Lawyer New Sin Yew, who also represented Bersih 2.0, told Malay Mail Online later that the Home Ministry need not return any T-shirts seized unless requested to do so by individuals who wanted theirs back.

He added that the case will not return to the High Court as the appellate court had overturned the former’s decision today.

On August 27 last year, the government gazetted the order by the Home Ministry banning all items related to the Bersih 4 mass demonstration, including its promotional materials and any item of clothing bearing the rally’s name as well as its signature yellow.

According to the federal gazette on the Attorney-General’s Chambers website, the ban was issued under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 and officially came into effect on August 28.

The order, issued by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi within his powers under Section 7(1) of the PPPA, stipulates that: “The printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession of the publication described in the Schedule which is likely to be prejudicial to public order, likely to be prejudicial to security, likely to be contrary to any law and likely to be prejudicial to national interest are absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia.”

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