Religious council throws its weight behind all three rallies

By Tarani Palani
July 1, 2011 | Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has thrown its weight behind all three planned rallies on July 9.

The organisation which propagates religious harmony said that the “supreme law” of the court, the Federal Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly.

“Article 10 (1)(b) (states) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms… it is one of the pillars of our Rukun Negara,” read the statement.

“Even the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has stated that the people have the constitutional right to assembly peaceably… and the government should allow it,” it added.

Any pre-emptive banning of the said rallies would only make this fundamental guarantee an “illusion”. The police have a duty and the capacity to control such assemblies.

“They can designate routes and separate the different groups as was done in recent by elections. The should call the groups and make arrangements on the route each may take.”

The MCCBCHST also ridiculed reasons made against the rallies such as that it will cause traffic jams and inconvenience the people.

It said Malaysians have accepted these inconvenience as many national and religious functions and processions are held on a regular basis.

Bersih announced that it will rally for free and fair election on July 9. Malay right-wing group Perkasa jumped in and said that it will organised a counter protest on the same day. Soon after, Umno Youth announced that it too, will hold rally on the same day in support of the current electoral system.

Let’s engage

Bersih also found support in the form of community-based NGO, Permas (Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan).

The NGO which protects urban poor communities in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, expressed its approval of Bersih’s demands for a clean electoral roll, use of indelible ink, the halt of corruption and dirty politics, and the strengthening of public institutions.

Permas also condemned the government for its strong-arm tactics against Bersih.

“We are disgusted by the actions of the police who seem to be protecting only certain parties but continue to threaten, intimidate and arrest ordinary citizens who only want to exercise their rights,” said Permas’ Tan Jo Hann in a statement.

“Let us engage in open debate and discussions about these issues, and also take seriously the principles of free and fair elections which has not been taken seriously enough by the Election Commission,” he said.

HSS to let members decide

Meanwhile Indian-based assosiation, Hindu Sevai Sangam, said it supported Bersih’s call for the Election Commission for free and fair elections through electoral reforms.

However the movement said it was not encouraging its supporters to join the Bersih rally on July 9.

“That decision is left to our members to make, (but) the laws of the country must be obeyed.

“When it is declared as an illegal rally, the people must understand there are consequences to go against that order,” said HSS’ secretary general KK Supramaniam in a statement.

He added that the electoral reforms urged by Bersih was genuine and was not an attempt to make the EC a scapegoat.

Supramaniam also urged the authorities to take stern action against Perkasa chairman Ibrahim Ali for his alleged seditious statements.

  1. #1 by raven77 on Saturday, 2 July 2011 - 6:11 pm

    Another way of saying ..”I have no stand”…

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