By Boo Su-Lyn
June 16, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider
KLANG, June 16 — PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu has urged the police to protect protestors at the Bersih 2.0 rally next month instead of working to prevent them from gathering.
Mohamad pointed out that in the West authorities usually ensured the safety of protestors, unlike the recent revolts in the Middle East where demonstrators were killed by government forces.
“The police here should not imitate the police in the Middle East,” he said at a ceramah here last night.
“We acknowledge the strength of the police. They can arrest us under the ISA (Internal Security Act), launch tear gas, and kick us. [But what] do you profit by doing that to the rakyat?” asked Mohamad, more popularly known as Mat Sabu.
The newly-elected PAS No. 2 stressed that Bersih wanted a “peaceful assembly”.
Bersih is an election watchdog group that is pushing for electoral reforms to provide for free and fair elections in Malaysia.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties and activists are gearing up to march on July 9 in the second such rally by the election watchdog, the first being in 2007 when up to 50,000 were reported to have gathered in the capital, with many being dispersed by water cannons and tear gas fired by the police.
PAS has promised to bring 300,000 protestors this year in hopes that it will galvanise support for the opposition in the general election expected within the year.
The 2007 rally was said to play a big role in bringing record gains for the opposition electoral pact in Election 2008, where it swept five state governments and won 82 parliamentary seats.
“Chaos depend on whether elections are fair or not. If the rakyat do not accept election results, there will be chaos,” Mohamad told a 300-strong crowd comprising mostly Malays.
The popular speaker, whose ceramah was filled with loud cheers and applause, pointed out that former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by youths. Mubarak ended his 30-year reign last February after weeks of mass protests against his autocratic rule.
“When (youths) see that elections are full of fraud and then go out to the streets, nobody will be able to do anything at that time. That is why we want fair elections,” said Mohamad.
The politician also warned the crowd against bringing weapons or party flags to the Bersih rally.
“If there is provocation, do not respond. Keep quiet and just follow the leaders,” he said.
Malay rights group Perkasa said recently it will take to the streets to counter Bersih in Kuala Lumpur on July 9.