The steering committee does not have the mandate to decide for the 84 affiliated NGOs.
KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 3.0 is determined to hold its April 28 rally at Dataran Merdeka, but will have to relent if the 84 NGOs that make it up vote for a change of venue.
“We will have an emergency meeting tonight to discuss the NGOs’ concerns and we will then make an informed decision,” said Subramaniam Pillay, a member of the Bersih Steering Committee.
He told a press conference today that the committee was not mandated to make the decision on behalf of the NGOs.
Maria Chin Abdullah, another member of the committee, said the mandate now was to rally at Dataran Merdeka “pending discussions”.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has rejected Bersih’s application to have the sit-in rally at the iconic site.
The police too today have formally disallowed Bersih 3.0 to hold the peaceful sit-in rally at Dataran Merdeka, citing “safety” concerns.
On the weekend, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein urged DBKL to offer an alternative venue. He said he was willing to assist in securing Stadium Merdeka or Stadium Bukit Jalil as the alternative.
Today KL mayor offered the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, or the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium, or Stadium Titiwangsa in Taman Tasik Titiwangsa for the sit-in rally
Dataran is the place Over the last two weeks, Hishammuddin has twice said the government would not hinder the protest because it did not consider it a threat to national security.
Poet A Samad Said, who shares the Bersih chair with S Ambiga, said neither of them would budge from insisting on Dataran as the venue if it were their decision to make.
“Me and Ambiga share the point of view that Dataran is the place,” said the national laureate.
“But we have to be reasonable. The committee has to refer to the NGOs. If you ask me, we would like to keep Dataran as the venue. We’re not asking to use it for long hours, only two hours.”
DBKL’s reason for rejecting Bersih’s application to use the public square was that the protest, in its opinion, was not a “national event”.
A different reason However, at today’s press conference, Bersih pointed out that Dataran had often been used for functions that could not be considered national events.
“They held Barisan National Youth Ride Fest 2012, Nestle’s 100th year celebration, OCBC Cycle Malaysia, Standard Charted KL Marathon 2011,” said Maria.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Fuad Ahmad Ismail reiterated this morning that DBKL would not allow Bersih to use Dataran, but this time the reason he gave was that the rally would have “political or dissenting elements”.
At the Bersih press conference, Maria responded to former PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa’s statement yesterday that Ambiga was not fit to lead Bersih because she supported the cause of the the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
A clearly irritated Maria said: “It is not for him to decide who will be our leader. That is decided by the 84 NGOs that make up Bersih.”