KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Opposition-led state governments should have provided alternative locations for the Bersih 4 rally as it was inappropriate to use Dataran Merdeka as a venue, newly appointed Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said today.
He said if opposition parties were truly sincere in fighting for freedom of speech and assembly, they should have done so.
“Why didn’t the Bersih organisers have the assembly in Selangor, or Padang Kota, Penang, when it is the PR (Pakatan Rakyat) state governments that constantly voice their support for freedom of speech.
“If they were to have the assembly there, maybe the state governments can prepare food and equipment that are more comfortable to Bersih 4.0 participants, so they don’t have to bring their own food and tents,” he said in a statement.
“Opposition politicians including Bersih organisers used Article 10 (1)(b) of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that every citizen has the right to assemble peacefully and without weapons.
“But what about Article (2)(b) which speaks of the right of freedom of others to enjoy properties peacefully, the freedom of movement, the right to enjoy the natural environment and the right to conduct business?” Nur Jazlan asked.
Nur Jazlan said since the Peaceful Assembly Act was passed, people had been given adequate space to assemble peacefully as long as it was done within the confines of the law.
“So why is it so hard to adhere to the PAA 2012 when there are many law practitioners in the Bersih secretariat and they understand what is provided under the law,” he said.
The former Public Accounts Committee chairman said not only was Dataran Merdeka inappropriate as an assembly point because of the Merdeka celebration rehearsals, there are also many places of worships and schools within a 50 metre radius.
In addition to that, the Pulai MP said the “owner” of Dataran Merdeka is the KL City Hall (DBKL) which did not allow the symbolic location to be used by Bersih 4.
Nur Jazlan also complimented the police force for being tolerant towards Bersih 4.0 participants even though, ‘it is clear that they have gone against the law, especially, the organisers’.
Bersih 2.0 kicked off a 34-hour overnight rally downtown near Dataran Merdeka on Saturday at 2pm.
The rally called for institutional economic and government reforms and also Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation as prime minister over his administration’s handling of debt-stricken state investor 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The 34-hour long Bersih 4 rally saw tens of thousands gather at the fringes of Dataran Merdeka throughout the weekend while hundreds remained to sleep on the streets on Saturday night.
The rally ended peacefully despite previous threats by Putrajaya of a crackdown after declaring the rally and its paraphernalia illegal.