End of road for Sabah Bersih 4 as ralliers hit police barricade on ‘walk for democracy’

Kota Kinabalu police bar Sabah Bersih 4 ralliers from continuing their 'walk for democracy' at the Tanjung Lipat waterfront, with only 3km left to cover in their 6km journey. — Picture by Julia Chan
Kota Kinabalu police bar Sabah Bersih 4 ralliers from continuing their 'walk for democracy' at the Tanjung Lipat waterfront, with only 3km left to cover in their 6km journey. — Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 30 — The Sabah edition of Bersih 4 rally broke up today ahead of its midnight expiry after state police put an end to the ralliers’ 6km “walk for democracy” along the Tanjung Lipat waterfront here, after just 3km.

Fronting a police barricade roadblock about 2km out of the city centre, Kota Kinabalu police chief assistant commissioner M. Chandra told the participants to disperse.

“This is the limit, we cannot let you go any further,” he said.

He also gave them some 15 minutes before action is taken.

In the short discussion of about five minutes, Bersih Sabah chairman Jannie Lasimbang agreed to the deadline and to stand down.

“We have intention to get to the city, because we are not satisfied with the mayor's decision not to let us use Padang Merdeka for a peaceful assembly. It is our right. But we won't breach the barricade,” she told the participants.

“After our dispersal, we will make our way separately to the City Hall whatever way we can, and send a memo to the mayor,” she said.

Lasimbang urged participants not to see the cancellation as a failure but see it as mission complete for today.

“We are victorious in our mission to occupy Likas and send a message for the five Bersih claims.

“This is not the end of our struggle for people's rights,” she said to loud cheers from the crowd.

The protesters had walked some 3km from the Likas Bay Park II in an orderly train of about 200m long along the jogging track of the Tanjung Lipat stretch and walked shouting “Reformasi” and chanting “Bersih” while waving the Sabah and Malaysian flags.

Their walk, short of the 6km goal into the city, was heavily monitored by the presence of a police in cars, a helicopter hovering above and a marine police patrol unit in jet skis.

Participants were handed out food from donors and began to disperse shortly after 12.

George Wong, 26, said he was happy with how peaceful the assembly was but was dissatisfied that it was prematurely cut short.

The tourist guide said that the rally was well-organised and the turnout was decent but could be improved.

“I was hoping that it could last till 2pm which is the official time announced, just to prove our stand and dedication.

“But I'm hopeful it will only get better in the future,” he said.

Kota Kinabalu joins Kuching in ending the Bersih 4 rally prematurely, with only demonstrators in Kuala Lumpur still walking the streets around Padang Merdeka as at 1.30pm, with about 12-and-a-half hours to go to the end of their 34-hour campout in the national capital.

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