27 December 2012

Perhimpunan 12 Jan tetap diteruskan walau tanpa permit - Hishammuddin

Thursday, 27 December 2012 10:57
Filepic - Authorities had come down hard during the unauthorized street rally in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. Pix: hazissac.blogspot.comFilepic - Authorities had come down hard during the unauthorized street rally in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. Pix: hazissac.blogspot.comKUALA LUMPUR: The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Uprising Rally) mass event next January 12 will go on at Stadium Merdeka even without the authorities’ permit to use the iconic venue, The Malaysian Insider understands.
According to social activist Hishammuddin Rais, event organizers are still waiting for a response from the KL City Hall on their application for Stadium Merdeka, which was sent some time last week.
But he noted that even without permit, rally-goers could gather peacefully in the areas surrounding the stadium.

“I am just paraphrasing Md Sabu... if there is no stadium permit, we gather around it,” he said, referring to PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who is chairman of the event.

“I don’t think there will be any chaos, unless the cops are going to come running again. But I think the time is not conducive for this... but we shall cross the river when we get there,” Hishammuddin told The Malaysian Insider.

Should the event proceed without permission, the streets of the capital will again become the focus of international attention as major civil society movements nationwide, along with PR parties and other anti-government proponents, gather to demand a string of key issues ahead of national polls.

Hishammuddin said that the People’s Uprising Rally is a culmination of sorts for all movements against purportedly unfair government policies and decisions, as well as pro-change, pro-democracy and pro-opposition groups, and a massive show of force to frighten the ruling administration away from cheating during the coming polls.

At a press conference to announce the rally last week, Mohamad had invited all those with grouses against the government to participate in the mammoth event.

“We are not hiding the fact that this date was selected specifically because it is near the elections. And yes, there will be those who say this is purely political.

“It is clearly an event to mount pressure on the government of the day so they will not do mass cheating during the polls, so that it will not be a stolen election,” Hishammuddin said.

But the activist, who is also a Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, reminded that regardless of the political nature of the rally, the involvement of civil society movements meant that the groups want their demands delivered ― from the scrapping of the Lynas plant in Kuantan, to the promise of fair royalty payments to oil-producing states, free education and a fair polls process.

“These groups have been voicing their demands... and this is not just for the present government but for the incoming government as well.

“These demands are still valid so whoever rules next, must remember this,” Hishammuddin said, before adding that the demand for free and fair elections will lead as the key message of the event.

As such, protestors, numbering to a targeted one million, will color the iconic Stadium Merdeka this January 12 in splashes of anti-Lynas’s fluorescent green, Bersih 2.0’s eye-catching yellow, the anti-FGVH movement’s orange and the striking red of pro-oil royalty groups.

Electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 had tried last year to organize its rally for free and fair elections at the same Stadium Merdeka venue but was turned down by the Najib Cabinet at the last minute.

Rally-goers proceeded anyway to throng the streets of the capital on July 9, 2011, resulting in a scene of chaos as riot police invaded the event armed with tear gas and water cannons.

The event marked a milestone in the growth of civil society in Malaysia and the widespread international condemnation against the government’s hard-handed tactics on protesters, propelled the Najib administration into action.

Two major changes ensued ― the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 was enacted to regulate public gatherings and the government formed a parliamentary select committee for electoral reforms to look into Bersih 2.0’s requests.

But Bersih 2.0 organized another rally this year, after claiming that the reforms were insufficient and insincere, and despite provisions in the new Act on public gatherings, the group’s April 28 event turned out to be even more violent than the previous one.

This time, rally-goers gathered for a peaceful “sit-in” protest at the historic Merdeka Square, which the authorities cordoned off after obtaining a court order to bar participants from entering the venue.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider yesterday, Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the electoral reforms group is not among the organizers of Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat, although a number of its member groups have been listed as participants.

She said any Bersih member or members who came out to rally on January 12 would be doing so in their own personal capacity.

“We have been invited to send a representative to speak during the event but that is as much as it will be. We are not organizing it,” she said, noting that the event is also endorsed by Pakatan Rakyat parties PAS, PKR and DAP.

- Clara Chooi / The Malaysian Insider

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