Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Despite royal audience, Hisham says Bersih still illegal

UPDATED @ 03:53:47 PM 06-07-2011
July 06, 2011
PUTRAJAYA, July 6 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein insisted today that Bersih is still outlawed, saying that neither an audience with the King nor relocating the July 9 rally to a stadium could turn the electoral reforms movement legal.

However, the home minister said that Bersih could still apply for a permit for the July 9 gathering using “other methods.”

“No, they are still banned, still illegal. Nobody can be above the law. Just because Tuanku met them, doesn’t mean they are no longer illegal,” he said, referring to the audience granted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to Bersih yesterday, after which it accepted the stadium offer.

“They don’t have to apply on the platform of Bersih itself,” he said of the coalition of 62 NGOs which has accepted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s offer to hold the rally in a stadium.

He explained that the organisation was still deemed illegal by the Registrar of Societies (RoS) under advice from the Attorney-General and would remain so unless the Registrar said otherwise. The Registrar had said last week that Hishammuddin ordered Bersih to be outlawed.

Hishammuddin (picture) added that this meant that Bersih t-shirts were still unlawful and the law would still apply to over a hundred already arrested in relation to the planned march on Saturday.

However, he said that should Bersih be successful in its application to meet in a stadium on Saturday, the government would facilitate the gathering.

“Of course, we will allow. The whole point is to allow them to air their grievance. This should be looked at as a positive way forward,” he said.

Hishammuddin added that this meant that yellow Bersih t-shirts were still unlawful and the law would still apply to over a hundred already arrested in relation to the planned march on Saturday.

“This is still related to an illegal activity. We are consistent with applying the law,” he said.

The police have continued making arrests in connection with the rally, most of them for wearing yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih emblazoned on them in a clampdown that has also seen Bersih being declared illegal.

But Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin stepped in on Sunday to defuse tension by advising the Najib administration and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.

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