Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why the confusion over rally venue?

Jeswan Kaur
 | April 24, 2012
If Hishammuddin says the Bersih 3.0 protest is no security threat, then why make it difficult for the coalition, PR to go ahead with its protest?

While the nation turns 55 this year, the rakyat learn the hard way that independence is all about bowing down to the “powers-that-be”.
The Bersih 3.0 sit-in protest to take place on April 28 at Dataran Merdeka has brought about this troubling realisation. The people now realise they have no say on where they can choose to come together and fight for a cause or protest against wrongdoings taking place.
However, the Home Ministry is singing a different tune, its minister Hishammuddin Hussein saying the authorities have learnt their lesson from the previous Bersih 1.0 and Bersih 2.0 rallies.
The Bersih 3.0 was announced following the release of the final report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms last month. The organisers of Bersih 3.0 claimed the report did not sufficiently address issues on the electoral roll.
To Hishammuddin, while the coming Bersih 3.0 sit-in protest can proceed, the gathering cannot take place at Dataran Merdeka as the landowner, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), will not allow it.
This unpleasant reality has come about after the Home Ministry declared that Kuala Lumpur’s historical landmark, Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square, does not welcome demonstrations, only national events.
But Bersih 3.0 steering committee chairperson S Ambiga is not amused with the antics of the authorities and has assured the people that the protest will take place at Dataran Merdeka, as per their plan.
She also disagrees with City Hall’s reasoning and sees no reason to appeal the City Hall decision, especially when both the police and the federal government seem cooperative.
“The police have called upon Bersih to fill in some forms. Even the (home) minister has said that the event is not a security threat so it is not necessary to appeal,” Ambiga had said.
The Home Ministry’s inconsistency is also giving Bersih co-chairperson A Samad Said a headache. Still, the national laureate vows he will be at Dataran Merdeka regardless of the action taken against him.
“If they trouble us, we will trouble them. DBKL is behaving as though the place belongs to them and not the people. Dataran belong to all of us and I will protest even if they try to stop us,” Samad had said.
Confusing the rakyat
If Hishammuddin says the Bersih 3.0 protest is no security threat, then why make it difficult for the coalition to go ahead with its protest?
What really is the reason behind City Hall’s move to bar Bersih 3.0 from using Dataran Merdeka as its protest site?
Looks like the Home Ministry is confusing both the rakyat and Bersih with his flip-flop stand on this issue.
Where City Hall is concerned, everyone would agree that its modus operandi is very much determined by the “powers-that-be” and it comes as no surprise if it was the latter that decreed a “No” to Bersih 3.0.
About a fortnight ago, Hishammuddin said the Barisan Nasional-led government would allow Bersih to protest as it was not deemed as a threat to “national security”. He reiterated his statement several days later, adding that the protest had minimal “traction” with the people.
“It is not a security issue. So if there were to be an increase in police presence [on that day], it is only to assist those who are going to the gathering. We have made clear our stand that we allow peaceful assembly. We walk the talk,” Hishammuddin was quoted by the newspapers as saying.
What walk is the government walking with its “yes” then “no” reaction? If the government does not see Bersih 3.0 as a threat, then stop bullying the coalition and allow it to hold its April 28 protest.
On the one hand, Hishammuddin says the federal government allows peaceful assembly as stipulated under the Peaceful Assembly Act and, on the other, he is sending the message that the Bersih 3.0 is a threat and thus not deserving of a place in the heart of the city.
Stop fooling the rakyat, Hishammuddin
The Home Minister says City Hall can provide other avenues for the April 28 rally, citing lack of police manpower to manage the crowd should the protest happen at Dataran Merdeka.
Now, what other sites does City Hall have in mind? Is it considering the Lake Garden Kuala Lumpur or the Titiwangsa Lake Garden or the opulent National Arts Gallery in Jalan Tun Razak? Or is City Hall thinking of some remote site inaccessible to the protesters?
Just what are both the Home Ministry and City Hall up to? Have both these authorities really learned their lessons from the last two Bersih rallies? Looking at Hishammuddin’s far from convincing response, it does not seem the case.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.
Komen: Marilah kita BERSIHkan pilihan raya kita supaya menjadi ADIL dan BEBAS. Maruah SPR makin menjunam di bawah BN/UMNO.

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