Bersih to rally in Stadium Merdeka despite Cabinet refusal

(The Malaysian Insider) – KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Bersih has vowed to gather in Stadium Merdeka for its July 9 rally despite the Cabinet’s refusal to allow them to use any stadium in the capital city, ostensibly because the electoral reform coalition has been outlawed.

Bersih said in a statement last night that it “will not for one moment be swayed from our decision to gather there” to call for free and fair elections.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim earlier said Putrajaya would not accept any application from Bersih to hold rallies in Kuala Lumpur while the police said they were still waiting for the movement to apply for a permit.

“Bersih 2.0 is disappointed in the manner in which the Prime Minister and his cabinet has reneged on their offer to provide a stadium for us to hold our peaceful gathering,” said the group in a statement signed by all 14 members of its steering committee.

Bersih representatives led by chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, on Tuesday where they agreed to the constitutional monarch’s advice to hold their rally in a stadium rather than in the streets.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak also had an audience with the King and later said he would meet with Bersih on the stadium offer but the prime minister said yesterday his offer for a stadium was on behalf of his government and the final decision lay with the police.

But a Cabinet meeting yesterday rejected the movement’s bid to hold the rally in the historic Stadium Merdeka, where Malaya declared independence in 1957.

“If the Prime Minister is a man of his word, he will make the appropriate arrangements for the event to proceed peacefully at Stadium Merdeka. 

“Whether or not the government abides by their principles, we the Malaysian people will always uphold ours. Our determination to exercise our constitutional right to gather peacefully for a just and reasonable cause is unwavering,” Bersih said in the statement.

The movement made of 62 registered societies also pointed out that  recent statements by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar indicated that the police would take action against those  who “do anything on July 9th beyond staying at home.”