On 18 August 2015 Bersih 2.0, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, met City Hall Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) to discuss Bersih 4.
We have reviewed the information provided by DBKL, and the concerns they expressed. We highlight the following:
- Prior to announcing the date and venue for Bersih 4 in Kuala Lumpur, we had confirmed via phone call with DBKL that Dataran Merdeka and Padang Merbok had not been committed for any other activities.
- We were therefore surprised when DBKL informed us they will hold an event in Dataran Merdeka and that they have reserved Padang Merbok for the use of uniformed personnel who will be in the city during that period. DBKL even said they had decided to close roads in order to conduct an event outside Sogo on 29 August.
- DBKL informed us that Dataran Merdeka and Padang Merbok are out of bounds for Bersih 4.
- DBKL informed us that tents and sleeping bags are not permitted on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and that enforcement actions will be taken if warranted.
- We stressed to DBKL and the police who attended the meeting that Bersih 4 is a peaceful assembly. We were disappointed that DBKL and the police continued to adopt the position that the organisers of prior Bersih assemblies were responsible for damages and litter.
- We reminded DBKL and the police of the outcome of the Bersih 3 court case in which we were cleared of responsibility for events which transpired after the police unleashed water cannons and fired tear gas towards the crowd.
- We informed DBKL that we have arranged for about 2,000 of our own security personnel to control the crowds. We reminded the police that they should not renege on their duty to control crowds and that they should refrain from inciting the crowds.
Bersih 2.0 is committed to be peaceful, to keep everyone safe, and to holding the government accountable. Based on those commitments, we have made several decisions. These decisions are reflected in these announcements:
- Bersih 4 participants will march towards Dataran Merdeka from Brickfields, Pasar Seni, Masjid Negara, Dataran Maybank and Sogo – and will be in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka.
- Bersih 4 participants will respect all barriers and Merdeka day preparations organised or established by the authorities. Bersih 2.0 distances itself from any calls to breach any barriers.
- Bersih 2.0 expects the police to do their duty by assisting in crowd control and by refraining from inciting the crowds.
- Bersih 2.0 is happy DBKL has said CCTV cameras will be in operation, and calls upon DBKL to make the full recordings available to the public (instead of just portions).
- Bersih 2.0 expects DBKL to make the necessary road closures and arrange for direction of traffic to ensure overall safety, though we will provide volunteers to direct traffic.
- Bersih 2.0 withdraws its earlier request for participants to bring tents. Instead, we now ask participants to bring sleeping bags, blankets and umbrellas in addition to food and drink. Due to the “sudden unavailability” of Dataran Merdeka and Padang Merbok, participants will have to rest overnight on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. We call upon DBKL to humanely accept this decision.
- Bersih 2.0 asks participants to keep any rubbish they may generate (such as food wrappers or empty water bottles) on themselves until they can place them in designated rubbish collection points.
- Bersih 2.0 will take up DBKL’s request that we contact Alam Flora to arrange for additional large rubbish bins (‘skips’) for depositing rubbish collected by volunteers.
- Bersih 2.0 reminds DBKL and the police to review the findings contained in the High Court’s 24 June 2015 judgment in which the government failed in its bid to claim damages from the organisers of Bersih 3, and also the findings and recommendations Suhakam made after conducting its own independent inquiry.
Bersih 2.0 is committed to ensuring the safety of Bersih 4 participants and to avoiding needless confrontation with the authorities.
We are also committed to exercising our duty as citizens to hold the government accountable.
We will continue to cooperate with everyone to the largest extent possible.
We hope this statement will be viewed as an expression of our commitments.
Maria Chin Abdullah, Chair, Bersih 2.0
Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee, comprising –
Timbalan Pengerusi: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Bendahari: Masjaliza Hamzah; wakil kebangsaan: Prof Madya Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusof, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri dan New Sin Yew; naib pengerusi: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b Wan Ismail (Semenanjung Timur), Thomas Fann (Semenanjung Selatan), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Semenanjung Tengah) dan Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (Semenanjung Utara).