The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should halt all “demonisation” campaign of Bersih 4 whether directly by his Ministers, lieutenants and UMNO/BN leaders or indirectly by pro-UMNO/BN NGOs and personalities, and instead, offer the hand of friendship and co-operation to Bersih organisers to make a success of the August 29/30 overnight rally, turning it into a Human Rights Carnival or Festval,, which will break the jinx of unending bad news for Malaysia for over a month.
This is particularly pertinent as SUHAKAM, which was set up by Parliament to advise the government on human rights, has made three important points:
1. that as far as the Bersih rally is concerned, public assemblies cannot be banned. After the repeal of Section 27 of the Police Act, the concept of illegal assemblies no longer exist.
As Suhakam Chairman, Hasmy Agam has put it succintly, “an assembly is to be considered peaceful if its organisers have clarified that its intentions are peaceful”.
2. The police must not prevent, hinder or restrict a peaceful assembly, except in the interests of security of the country or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
3. To protect all participants from individuals or groups of individuals, including agent provocateurs and counter-demonstrators, who aim at disrupting or dispersing the assembly. Such an obligation does not rest on the organisers.
I would in fact suggest to the Prime Minister to appoint a Ministerial committee, comprising Ministers and Deputy Ministers, to co-operate and co-ordinate with the Bersih organisers to ensure the success of Bersih 4 and the overnight rally on August 29/30, turning it into a Human Rights Carnival or Festival, which would break the jinx of unending bad news for Malaysia for over a month.
The Malaysian government cannot and must not continue to stumble from one blunder to another like a punch-drunk boxer, from the latest Ministry of Education ban on Penang schools and students from participating in the Penang State Government’s 58th Merdeka celebrations because of the theme “bersih, cekap and amanah” – as if this has become a “dirty” and even “subversive” slogan after being a national slogan in the first decade of Mahathir premiership in the eighties – to the wild and hilarious allegation that some RM30 million would be spent for the Bersih 4 overnight rally, as if other Malaysians have been equally smitten by a “RM2.6 billion complex” like Najib.
In fact, I would suggest that the best climax of the Bersih 4 overnight rally could be a dialogue between the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues on the one hand and the Bersih 4 organisers and principal participants of the August 29/30 overnight rally, and there cannot be a better venue than the Malaysian Parliament House itself, which is nearby the venue of Bersih 4.