By Melissa Chi
June 25, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has deemed the July 9 Bersih rally as politically-motivated and a threat to national security as well as the country’s reputation.
Apart from calling in the organisers for questioning next week, police also insist they will not issue permits for at least three rallies planned on the day.
“As far as the government is concerned, we have made a decision and we think that the assembly is illegal and if the purpose is to send out a message that there are disagreements, that there are suggestions that they want to make about the rules of elections to the SPR (Election Commission), there are process and procedures for that.
“Because of that, we think the rationale given by Bersih to have the rally is not relevant. That’s why we say this rally is politically-motivated,” the deputy prime minister told reporters after touring the booths at the GLC Open Day here at the KL Convention Centre.
Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 is planning a massive rally on the day in Kuala Lumpur to push for electoral reforms, with PAS aiming to galvanise all one million of its members to take part in the assembly.
Umno Youth and right-wing group Perkasa have also promised to carry out separate rallies to rival Bersih’s.
Today, Muhyiddin defended the counter rallies and said it was “normal” to have counter groups to any movement.
“Whether it is right or wrong, that is up to our interpretations, but we see this as something that can erupt situations that will not benefit the country, that will ruin the country’s image internationally, in the context of our hard work to develop the nation, attract investors, build our image globally as a peaceful and developed country,” he said.
Muhyiddin acknowledged Umno Youth’s pledge to rally but reiterated the prime minister’s remarks that the authorities have the right to take actions against anyone who participates in the assembly that is deemed illegal.
Police have repeatedly warned they will treat the rallies as illegal assemblies.
“So we leave it to the wisdom of the Umno Youth and Barisan Nasional leaders to decide on whether that is the right move or what is the right action they should take,” he said.
Muhyiddin then claimed news coverage of the rally, if it proceeds, will be used to falsely depict Malaysia as being in a state of unrest.
“We in Malaysia know that after decades, that is not our culture. So I know their trick. We are not stupid, we are also experts in politics and understand their bad intentions.
“So this has bad intentions. They did it on purpose so the people will be in fear and there will be eruption of unwanted incidents and internationally, Malaysia will be seen as a country that is unsafe, tourists will stop coming, investors will not invest because of the unrest, that is their intention,” he said.
The first Bersih rally in 2007 saw up to 50,000 people take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur before they were dispersed by police armed with tear gas and water cannons.
The demonstration has been partly credited for Pakatan Rakyat’s record gains in Election 2008, where the opposition pact swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.