Who ‘owns’ Dataran Merdeka?

Jeswan Kaur | April 14, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

It is annoying how the ruling government is going in a roundabout manner to kill off the April 28 rally.


Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz has curtly asked electoral watchdog Bersih 3.0 to obtain consent from the owners of Dataran Merdeka if it insists on using the site for its April 28 sit-in protest.

Now that is new. Who really “owns” Dataran Merdeka? And each time the federal government or big-wig corporate companies uses the square to organise events, do they too seek perrmission from the “owners”?

It is annoying how the ruling government is going in a roundabout manner to kill off the April 28 rally, sparing no effort in trying to wear down Bersih 3.0 which is not about to scout for another location.

Bersih 3.0 steering committee chairperson S Ambiga is determined to proceed with the sit-in protest at Dataran Merdeka due to its historical relevance to the people’s struggle for independence and a democratic Malaysia.

“We do not agree that there is a necessity to change the venue to other places,” she said in a statement.

Ambiga added: “We certainly do not see any reason why Dataran Merdeka is unsuitable in the light of the many events that have recently been held there, including 205th anniversary of the Royal Malaysian Police [PDRM].”

But Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is unwilling to cooperate and instead wants Bersih 3.0 to be “sincere” and “realistic” and compromise on the location.

Hishammuddin is contradicting himself when, on the one hand, he says the government does not view the April 28 rally as a security issue and, on the other, objects to Dataran Merdeka being chosen as the venue.

If the Bersih 3.0 April 28 protest is no security threat as claimed by Hishammuddin, then there would be no reason to make matters difficult for the coalition. And unlike Bersih 2.0 and “all things yellow” which were banned, Hishammuddin will also see to it that Bersih 3.0 would not suffer the same fate under the excuse that it was inciting people and creating an atmosphere of unrest.

Hishammuddin has cautioned Bersih 3.0 that the rally would only be given the greenlight if it does not break the laws, which translates to not being stubborn in holding the rally at Dataran Merdeka.

As was the case with its July 9, 2011 “Walk for Democracy” rally, the election watchdog has yet again given its commitment in working with the police to ensure its April 28 rally takes places smoothly.

Ambiga hoped the police would assist in facilitating the traffic flow on April 28 for Bersih 3.0 as the authority did for several public gatherings.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin remains firm that Bersih 3.0 discusses with the police to determine a suitable place that guarantees the rally will not interfere with the daily lives of the people.

Government in no mood to help Bersih 3.0

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government is sending out a false message that it is not against the Bersih 3.0 April 28 rally but the truth is otherwise. By refusing to allow the election watchdog to use the Dataran Merdeka as its preferred venue, the government is doing what it did to Bersih 2.0 during its July 9, 2011 rally.

Eventhough Bersih 2.0 had planned to march through the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9, the coalition after consultations with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, decided instead to organise the “Walk for Democracy” at Merdeka Stadium.

But the venue compromise by Bersih 2.0 was far from being appreciated by the BN government. The demonstrators were unable to congregate at Merdeka Stadium as they were forced to disperse by police who were heavily deployed throughout the city. Then, police arrested more than 1,600 demonstrators including Ambiga and several opposition figures.

The police had also detained six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, for 60 days under the Emergency Ordinance in relation to the July 9 rally.

But come April 28, should the BN government use a high-handed approach in cracking down on the gathering as it did during July 9 last year, Ambiga warns that an international condemnation was likely, a stark reminder of the castigation that the federal government suffered at the hands of the global community vis-à-vis the July 9 rally.

Hopefully, Najib has put on his thinking cap and is all ears to what Ambiga is saying. To play “hide-and-seek” with Bersih 3.0 will worsen matters and further malign the already tainted BN government.

BN has to ‘grow up’

Thus far, the BN government’s reaction to the coming April 28 rally has been far from favourable and marks a sign that its leadership has yet to “grow up”.

Instead of cooperating and giving Bersih 3.0 the benefit of doubt, the Najib administration has come out with nonsensical demands or remarks which tell that BN has either failed to learn or refused to learn its lesson from the July 9 episode.

It is still not too late for the federal government to take cognisance post-July 9 and ensure that democracy is no longer manipulated to suit the agenda of the “powers-that-be”.

Najib has hinted that the 13th general election is not far away and this, to Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson and national laureate A Samad Said, makes the April 28 sit-in protest all the more necessary, for it served to warn the rakyat that Malaysia was about to face its “dirtiest” polls ever.

That is not all. Should Najib and his cousin Hishammuddin get busy plotting ways and means to extinguish the April 28 protest, they should bear in mind the shame their “conspiracies” would bring to the nation.

Ambiga had put it well when she said that it was “shameful that Burma can propose a more democratic law,” referring to Myanmar’s military-dominated Parliament which passed a law last year allowing citizens to protest peacefully with five days’ notice instead of the 10 required here under the Peaceful Assembly Act, which Ambiga said despite being passed in Parliament recently had yet to be given an “effective” enforcement date.

Looks like Najib has forgotten the basic tenets of democracy which include personal liberty, the practice of electing representatives to make laws and a legal system based on a constitution – all which for a long time now have been exploited and abused by the “powers-that-be”.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

  1. #1 by wizzerd on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 9:06 am

    Home Minister is trying to divert the blame again, thinking that rakyat are fools. Who are you kidding. They are sh*t scared about another massive gathering show of force by the stakeholders of this country to take back our rights to have a free and fair election. I am sure that this time..we will paint the city yellow but 10 times bigger..at least..

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 9:24 am

    S Ambiga must not fall into Nazri Aziz’s trap. If she asks the owners of Dataran Merdeka for permission to use the area, I am sure the answer is 100% “no”. Dataran Merdeka is PUBLIC area; anybody can use it.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 9:36 am

    Jibby wants Bersih 3.0 to be held in Pulau Bidong, the site of the former Vietnamese refugee camp

  4. #4 by k1980 on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 9:38 am

    After the 13GE, Pulau Bidong will become the refugee camp for unmoputras scrambling to migrate to East Timur

  5. #5 by rahmanwang on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 10:29 am

    What a whole lot of rubbish.
    Dataran Merdeka is a public area.
    I am coming back to KL for “picnic” at Dataran Merdeka on April 28

  6. #6 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 11:25 am

    So PAK MAN, about your remark of several days ago, i.e. that you are not surprised by jib’s readiness to let bersih 3.0 proceed. Witness the “W”-tongue of jibby jib at work, boy. The thing about jib is this. He is so so so predictable even though he has two branches in his forked tongue.

  7. #7 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 11:29 am

    And one more thing. Umno is in the habbit of shooting itself in the foot. This time umno mentions the “owner of Dataran”. Well well well. Could someone with the means (i.e. jalan) pls find out whether dataran indeed has an owner and if so, who is that fella. If there is an owner, I bet a billion ringgit that he must be an umnoputra!

  8. #8 by k1980 on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 11:39 am

    Altantuya was blown up in forested land near the Subang Dam in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam. Hishamuttin, you want to bet with me that the owner of that plot of land has not given his consent to that murder on his land

  9. #9 by k1980 on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 11:42 am


    ..one BN councillor, his wife and two children were the lucky recipients of four 1Malaysia laptops, one for each of them,”

  10. #10 by tak tahan on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 12:05 pm

    Up up on the way..there goes Ajib kor from a Santa Claus transformed into a Superman,flying above to tour every corner of the nation while giving away goodies to the poor beholden rakyat.Guys,watch out for gifts falling from the sky.


  11. #11 by monsterball on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 1:03 pm

    It’s the expected merry-go-round Ambiga suspected came true.
    This time….BERSIH 3 will catch trouble makers said Ambiga is a cute idea….hitting back at the yoyos.

  12. #12 by ShiokGuy on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 1:29 pm

    Dear ALL,

    I attended a few protest rally in NZ while studying in Christchurch, Canterbury University.

    The police will cleared and escort us toward our destination, they make sure that everything is smooth and the whole events is such a enjoyable one.

    The business in town is extremely good because all those people need food and drink and after the rally we end up doing shopping in town. Business is good if the event is support by the escort of the police and also the authority given the basic right of a citizen to voice out. Not Silent them up.

    Why can’t we be matured enough to do the same?

    Shiok Guy

  13. #13 by monsterball on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 4:32 pm

    It’s bribing to get people come and hear Najib talk at Batu Pahat.
    It’s no no no to use Dataran Merdeka.
    It’s hush hush hush on all murder cases….why??
    It’s covering up billions stolen is the main reasons.
    It is also UMNO b or Mahathir thinks…he and his gang owns Malaysia.
    It needs a half Indian to cook up such devilish ideas to feed the full blooded Malays with money..worst than ganja.
    There is simply no cure for these crooks.
    They have no options.
    All the are doing is making life difficult for anyone wanting a clean government and simultaneously..keep fooling the Malays with their caring ans sharing personalities.
    These are actors and biggest hypocrites of all time…because they are the biggest crooks ….out to steal all and buy up the country….to rule forever.
    That’s Mahathir’s plan all along.
    Just vote them out and see the great great difference in our lives.
    Right now…country is under auto-pilot government…as these UMNO b ministers are all not qualified…good only to talk politics….day in day out.
    Our money is not our money ast all.
    It belongs to UMNO b to do as they like.
    If you accept that..than vote for them to govern forever and see People Power comes out and go into actions.

  14. #14 by monsterball on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 4:34 pm

    Dictators must fall in Malaysia.
    We are years behind others in progressing towards being a totally free country.
    Only idiots want one party to govern forever.

  15. #15 by mauriyaII on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 8:52 pm

    REMEMBER TAHIR SQUARE in Egypt? UMNO/BN is scared stiff that DATARAN MERDEKA might transform into TAHIR SQUARE! They really, honestly dread DATARAN MERDEKA might just be the catalyst for the fall of the corrupted, arrogant and racist UMNO and all its minions from MCA, MIC, GERAKAN, PPP and the rest of the kucing kurap Indian political parties.

    All these double speak and fork-tongued diatribes from the UMNO/bn ministers are nothing but the phobia of an ARAB SPRING coming to our shores.

    Ah Jib Gor, two timing PM who sings praises of the Chinese and Tamils one day and castigates them for all the evil in the country, failing to realize that he and his evil gang are the true thieves plundering the country dry.

    Why is the UMNO/BN running the world’s best democracy frightened of electoral reforms. What the people are asking are reforms that would make elections a very CLEAN AND FAIR one. Why is the Election Commission dragging its feet when there are so many anomalies in the system. Why is the EC and UMNO/BN scared of a level playing field? Is it because a clean and fair election would bury them for good.

    The organizers of BERSIH 3.0 should not compromise to bullies. Hisaputing, Nazi and fellows of the same ilk have been bulldozing their way far too often. We have had enough of these low down gutter politicians. Let them feel the anger of all Malaysians on 28 April at Dataran Merdaka and at all the venues throughout the country and at countries world wide who support a noble cause.

  16. #16 by drngsc on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 9:24 pm

    Who owns “Dataran Merdeka”? Depends on who is asking and who is replying.
    Let us also ask, Who owns Putrajaya?
    It does not really matter. BERSIH 3.0 is a people’s movement and Malaysia belongs to the people.

    We must change the tenant at Putrajaya, otherwise the temporary landlord feels that he owns Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming. Let us all work very very hard, and show them who owns Dataran Merdeka and Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can and change we will.

  17. #17 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 10:28 pm

    After 55yrs umno and umnoputras own just about every bit of the country including yes you got it, God.

  18. #18 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 14 April 2012 - 10:40 pm

    Who owns Dataran Merdeka? No, the question should be ”Who MANAGES Dataran Merdeka” ?

    Suppose Polis Raja Di-Malaysia wants to organise some demonstrations about their functions e.g. riot control, dog show etc, in conjunction with Police Day and Rais Yatim also wants to use the Dataran at the same time and day for a Ballet Show, who should get the use of the Padang? And if the MCA also wants to use the Dataran for a Malaysian Book of Records Tai Chi Performance at the same time and date, will they also not clash with the others?

    So somebody got to manage the field and say who gets to use it. Otherwise can you imagine the madness there on that date and time with everyone turning up in uniform, bajus and tutus?

    So maybe Ambiga and Bersih 3.0 will not get to use the field as there may be many other parties who have applied well before them. I hear it has already been arranged.

  19. #19 by ktteokt on Sunday, 15 April 2012 - 12:20 am

    Is Nazri saying that all the couples courting at Dataran Merdeka have been given PERMITS by its owners? And what about those going to the Selangor Club who walks across Dataran Merdeka? Do they also have to get permits?

  20. #20 by Cinapek on Sunday, 15 April 2012 - 12:47 am

    Hishamuddin Hussein tells Bersih 3 to be “sincere and realistic”

    He should look into a mirror when he is making this comment. Him and the BN Govt are now baring their hypocrisy of the Peaceful Assembly Act for all to see. If they were sincere about allowing peaceful assembly, why are they again trying to thwart Bersih 3? Clearly the Peaceful Assembly Act was just lip service and these BN scums have not changed their spots one bit. If they were genuinely sincere they should encourage the PDRM to cooperate with the Bersih organisers and ensure a genuinely peaceful rally.

    And what was the rally for? In case BN has forgotten, it is about free and fair elections. Najib has been very fond of declaring lately that he, UMNO and BN is genuinely sincere about free and fair elections. If his statement is sincere, BN should JOIN the rally , not be against it. And if EC is really as independent as BN is so fond of repeating it, why should BN be partisan to them by trying to stop the rally?

  21. #21 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Sunday, 15 April 2012 - 9:48 am

    Yes be sincere n realistic like kerismudin bin lembudin. He sure was when he flashed the keris. And when he defended those lembuhead stompers.

  22. #22 by rockdaboat on Monday, 16 April 2012 - 3:00 pm

    Kerismudin and Lembuyudin are of a different standard from the rakyat. So don’t listen to – NO STANDARD.

You must be logged in to post a comment.