Home Media statements 2011 Media Statements Kuala Lumpur under siege!

Kuala Lumpur under siege!

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Kuala Lumpur is under siege. It is under siege by the police. We are not facing any external threat neither are we under any attack. But we are under siege by our own police.

Police roadblock on the night of 8 July 2011 - Photograph: Jack Ooi/The Malaysian Insider

What is happening in KL doesn’t make sense. What is happening in KL is troubling. A situation of emergency is being created wantonly. A large area is coming under strict police control.

We are witnessing the greatest mobilisation of the police force in our entire history. It is a complete waste of resources and totally unnecessary. The police should be concentrating their efforts in bringing criminals to book instead of wasting their time in stopping a peaceful gathering.

Ninety-one Malaysians have been barred from entering the city centre under threat of arrest. A court order has been obtained to enforce this ruling. Among the 91 are two Malaysians who have been detained on 2 July 2011 under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969. They are still under detention. What makes the police think that somehow or other they will escape from their security cell in Bukit Aman and make their way to the Merdeka Stadium?

This restriction order is absolutely absurd. What about those who live in KL? Are they required to shift
their residence outside KL and relocate themselves elsewhere? What about those who work in KL? Are they forced to be absent from their duty? This court order doesn’t make any sense at all. In fact, it is senseless!

All this seems unnecessary. All that Malaysians want to do is to walk peacefully to register their protest against the Election Commission for conducting elections that are seen as “not free and fair.” These very unfair elections have been going on for decades. We have now reached a boiling point when it is not possible to tolerate this any longer. So Malaysians decided to march on 9 July 2011.

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But out of deference to the Yang diPertuan Agong, the Bersih Steering Committee willingly agreed to the the Prime Minister’s offer to allow Bersih to use a stadium in KL. But the PM did a somersault and said it was up to the police to decide if the Bersih would be issued a permit to hold the gathering.

Bersih had come down from their earlier uncompromising stand to have an open rally and decided that they would now gather at the Merdeka Stadium. But the police and others are putting all sorts of unnecessary obstacles. The Merdeka Stadium is not available on flimsy grounds. The police refuse to grant a permit for this peaceful gathering and want it to be held elsewhere, possibly in one of the Pakatan-controlled states. When arrangements have been made for the rally to be held in KL, now to tell them to go elsewhere is only making Malaysians angry and frustrated.

To stop this peaceful, democratic rally – guaranteed as a right under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is to ignore the rule of law and tarnish our reputation as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. When we occupy this exalted position on the Council, we should be setting examples for the rest of the world instead of becoming the laughing-stock of the world.

This gathering would not threaten the security of the country or in any way pose a risk to public order.
What the police should do is to restrain Pekasa and Umno Youth from marching on the same day. These are the trouble-makers who may create unrest and disorder tomorrow.

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Even at this last minute, it is not too late to allow Bersih to gather at Medeka Stadium. This is one positive way to defuse this volatile situation. Let good sense prevail.

Aliran Executive Committee
8 July 2011

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