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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ISA will not deter Bersih, vows leader

The use of the draconian Internal Security Act and mass arrests cannot be allowed to deter citizens from exercising their constitutional rights in joining the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9.

sisters in islam anti book banning book burning campaign 190808 maria chin abdullahSaying this today, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah declared that the police's continued intimidation of those related to Bersih “will not stop the rally”.

“They (the government) can use preventive measures, which they have already threatened to use, but the rally is not about individuals in Bersih 2.0," she told reporters today.

"Even if they catch all (the leaders), this is a citizens' call for (electoral) reform.”

Maria, who is executive director of NGO Empower, stressed that the government's recent actions should be cause for concern for the public, especially after Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today declared the yellow Bersih T-shirts to be illegal.

She said the government's “paranoia” has reached a point where just about anything can be considered a threat to national security.

azlanThey have not even given a reasonable answer why the Bersih T-shirts are illegal. This is a wild reaction, and reflective of a government that has lost control of what is rational and irrational.”

She maintained that the police actions will only galvanise the public into showing the government who the real boss is.

“Intimidation will not stop the rally. The people will show they are in charge... today we actually witnessed a whole series of moves to curb the people's rights. Change will come, and it starts now,” she said.

Maria was among four people hauled up at the same time for questioning at the Dang Wangi police station today, in relation to Bersih 2.0.

The others were Tenaganita chief Irene Fernandez, social activist Hishamuddin Rais and Latheefa Koya from Lawyers for Liberty.

'Kopi Jantan' jibe

Irene said the recent string of arrests and the continuous stream of people being called up for questioning are clear acts of intimidation and harassment.

NONECalling the recent actions “absolutely atrocious”, she said the situation is becoming increasingly ridiculous, especially after the Bersih T-shirt was declared illegal and the police raid today on the Bersih 2.0 secretariat in Petaling Jaya.

“It makes you want to laugh but it is also ridiculous. To claim democracy within such an announcement only proves there is no democracy,” she said.

Hishamuddin put his own spin on the situation, making a joke out of questions police asked about his role in the Bersih rally launch.

“They asked me who is sponsoring the rally. I told them 'mungkin Kopi Jantan' (maybe Kopi Jantan),” he said, referring to a popular coffee mix infused with the herb tongkat Ali, which is purported to be an aphrodisiac. - Malaysiakini

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