The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) condemns Utusan Malaysia’s report on 2 August on LGBT and the HIV infection with a photo showing a LGBT flag in the Bersih 5 rally with a caption of “Flag of LGBT groups flown in illegal assembly of Bersih 5.0 in Kuala Lumpur in 2016”.
Bersih 2.0 maintains that the Bersih 5 rally was not an illegal assembly as the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. This was even made crystal clear when the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed an injunction by the police to stop the rally on 17 November 2016.
The objective of Bersih 2.0 in holding the Bersih 5 rally was to demand free and fair elections and to clean the country from corruption following the 1MDB corruption scandal. Bersih 2.0 welcomed whoever that supported our call for democracy and free and fair elections. The participants of Bersih 5 rally did come from all walks of life irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, party affiliations and lifestyles, including the current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yasin.
Clearly, the story of Utusan Malaysia on the Bersih 5 rally is not factually correct, and it has nothing to do at all with protecting democracy or free and fair elections, which was the purpose of the Bersih 5 rally in 2016. We question Utusan Malaysia’s motive in placing a photo of the Bersih rally along with a story on HIV infection. It is misleading with ill intention and politically motivated.
This is not the first time Utusan Malaysia is making misleading news reports or even coming up with lies about Bersih 2.0. We therefore welcome the decision of the Education Ministry for universities and schools to stop subscribing to Utusan Malaysia.
Bersih’s struggle is and has always been about empowering the rakyat, as clearly pointed in our Bersih 5 slogan in 2016 “Satukan Tenaga Demi Malaysia Baru”. Now that we are in Malaysia baru, media practitioners should know well that the public does not tolerate misinformation, distortion and exclusion.
Bersih 2.0 reserves our right to take legal action against Utusan Malaysian for this report.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee