Suhakam chief says ‘Red Shirts’ entitled to counter-rally if legal

Razali Ismail

(MMO) – The National Human Rights of Malaysia respects the right of the pro-government “Red Shirt” movement to hold a rally to counter the upcoming Bersih 5 protest provided that it is legal, its chief commissioner Tan Sri Razali Ismail said.

But Razali stressed that the authorities must first scrutinise the motive of the counter-rally.

“If people, for the right reasons, want to demonstrate, the authorities will wait to say yes or no.

“If the authorities allow the Red Shirts to demonstrate… Suhakam can only accept that situation,” Razali told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

Datuk Jamal Yunos, who heads the informal “Red Shirts”, reaffirmed his vow yesterday to hold a counter-rally to Bersih 5 if electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 proceeds with its gathering.

The Sungai Besar Umno division chief also dared the group not to abandon its plan for the rally.


Jamal, who became the face of the so-called “Red Shirts” rally last year, previously pledged to gather as many as 300,000 people to counter any rally by Bersih 2.0.

Despite his pledge to hold the counter rally, Jamal had questioned the point of such public gatherings, saying that elections were a more effective way for the public to communicate their feelings towards the government.

His vow prompted concerns over a possible clash that may trigger a security crackdown using the National Security Council Act that came into force on August 1.

The NSC Act was passed in Parliament last December and empowers the National Security Council made up of a panel of eight members and chaired by the prime minister to declare any area a “security area” for a period of six months and deploy forces to search any individual, vehicle or premises without a warrant.

But Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed dispelled concerns it would be used on demonstrators if they turn unruly, saying the law was meant to be used mainly in cases of natural disasters and violent terrorists who threaten national security.