Bersih 3.0: Count us in, says PAS

(Harakah Daily) – PAS, whose strong backing played a crucial part in ensuring the huge turnout of the electoral reforms rally last July, has declared support for the next phase of the campaign.

Bersih 3.0 is increasingly being called following speculation that a third such rally may be in the line after earlier campaigns fell on deaf ears.

PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu announced a series of nationwide discussion and mobilisation programmes towards that goal.

“PAS supports Bersih’s decision to hold Bersih 3.0 since the eight demands of Bersih 2.0 continued to be ignored by the government,” he told a press conference at the PAS headquarters today, accompanied by central committee members, Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and lawyer Hanipa Maidin.

Saying DAP and PKR also agreed to launch Bersih 3.0, Mat Sabu said he would leave it to Bersih steering committee and its supporters to decide.

Bersih 2.0 is a coalition of more than sixty non-governmental organisations, formed to demand reforms in the electoral system, which include revamp of the controversial postal votes, the use of indelible ink and a minimum campaign period of 21 days. It also wants a more liberalised mainstream press, reform of public institutions such as police and Attorney General’s Chambers, eradication of corruption and vote buying practices, and a stop to “gutter politics”.

On July 9, some 50,000 people converged in the city centre to take part in Bersih 2.0’s rally, despite a series of clampdowns by the police and threats of violence by UMNO-linked groups to prevent any gathering.

‘Worse than Burma’

On the draconian Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 tabled by the government, Mat Sabu reiterated the party’s opposition to the proposed law, saying it was worse than military junta-ruled Burma.

Mat Sabu flanked by Hanipa and Dzulkefly, November 25.

“Malaysia seems to be overtaking Myanmar in denying people’s rights. The prime minister is lying by saying he wants to bring Malaysia towards better democracy. Myanmar with such poor record only requests five days’ notice for an assembly, but Malaysia wants 30 days.

“This is most insulting to Malaysians,” he added.

Court injunction

At the same press conference, Hanipa informed that PAS was initiating a legal action in the form of seeking a court injuntion to stop the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 from becoming an Act.

“We cannot wait for the bill to be passed and then challenge it in court. We are taking legal steps to stop the process of enacting this law,” said Hanipa.

He cited several provisions in the bill which ran contrary to the Federal Constitution, such as the one month notice needed before the police could consider approving permit for an assembly.

“It means that, if such notice is required, the people are not allowed to gather.

“So too the provision barring those 15 year-old and below from participating in an assembly. The teens are also citizens. If a school was being demolished, and the children wanted to protest, it is not allowed under the bill but okay under the constitution,” Hanipa added.