Bersih says ‘Selamatkan Malaysia’ protest constitutional

Noel Achariam

Bersih says police are incorrect in claiming the 'Selamatkan Malaysia' organisers should have applied for a permit for their rally against Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi getting a discharge not amounting to acquittal in his corruption trial. – EPA pic, September 13, 2023.

IT is the people’s constitutional right to assemble peacefully as it is part and parcel of a functioning democracy, said the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).

Its steering committee said police are duty-bound to uphold the Federal Constitution by facilitating such assemblies, ensuring the safety of participants and controlling traffic.

It was referring to the “Selamatkan Malaysia” protest led by Perikatan Nasional (PN) to protest Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) in his corruption trial.

Bersih corrected Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay’s statement that the rally organiser must apply for a permit from the authorities five days before the assembly date.

“This is factually incorrect as the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 only requires rally organisers to notify the authorities, not apply for permits or approvals like in the old days.

“As proven by many rallies, in particular Bersih 4 and Bersih 5, peaceful rallies are possible even with minimal facilitation by the police.

“We call on the police to carry out their duties professionally by providing all necessary assistance to rally organisers so they can exercise their democratic rights.”

Yesterday, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said any action taken against organisers of the planned protest will be a resounding affirmation the Anwar Ibrahim-led government has abandoned reform.

LFL director Zaid Malek said the rally on Saturday to protest Zahid’s DNAA must be allowed to take place without police interdiction or harassment.

Bersih said it was dismayed by the heavy-handed actions of police officers who obstructed the gathering of a group of farmers and activists outside Parliament yesterday.

“This was uncalled for as a peaceful assembly to pass a memorandum to parliamentarians is a democratic norm that should be facilitated, not obstructed, by the authorities.

“We call on parliament and authorities to facilitate future assemblies to pass memorandums in a peaceful and orderly manner.” – September 13, 2023.

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