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Thursday, December 20, 2007

BERSIH: Was an alternative site for Bersih November 10 rally offered?

Now it looks like there are 2 versions of what happened when BERSIH, a coalition of a huge list of NGOs and a few political parties, applied for a police to hold a
Rally for a clean and fair Election on November 10, 2007 (now fondly referred to as our version of the series of elevens. USA have their Seven-Eleven, 10/11 (the attack on the Twin Towers), and now Malaysia have our 10/11 too (11 November 2007), a significant event where a huge turn out of marchers turned out to participate in a march from 4 alternative gathering sites (the original assemble point, Dataran Merdeka, was expected to be inaccessible as the police had already issued stern warnings that anyone found within the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka on that day will be arrested. Despite many serious warnings by many people in authorities, including the Prime Minister of Malaysia himself (don't challenge me), and despite many road blocks set up days before the planned rally, the rally still ended successfully with a very satisfactory turn up.

According to a newspaper report I read some time ago, someone, either the IGP (Inspector General of Police) or the PM (Prime Minister) of Malaysia himself, was reported to have said that they offered Merdeka Stadium as an alternative place for the rally, but BERSIH, but BERSIH rejected it. I immediately emailed my contact at BERSIH to verify, but was told they are in the process of preparing a press statement regarding this so called offer. I now read in AWSJ (Asian Wall Street Journal) what seemed to be the press statement released by Sivarasa Rasiah of the Steering Committee Member of Bersih, Kuala Lumpur.

Sivarasa was reported to have said: "The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) would like to respond to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's recent op-ed ("Malaysia's Democracy is Strong," Dec. 7), in which the Prime Minister alleges that police
had offered us an alternative venue for our rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 10, 2007. I am unaware of any such offer. Upon the advice of the police, Bersih representatives met with the Chief Police Officer of Kuala Lumpur and 14 other senior officers on Nov. 1. No options for an alternative venue were discussed. We submitted an application for a permit on November 3. On Nov. 5, we met again with the police to discuss our program -- and again, no change of venue was offered. The next day, our
application to protest was denied. We filed a written appeal, as provided for under the law. On Nov. 9, a day before the rally, the appeal was turned down by letter."

Now we have two versions. One said an alternative site was offered. The other said no alternative site was offered. Both cannot be telling the truth. One must be lying. Who to believe? Well, I dare not offer a public opinion as I am do not have access to facts to venture a public opinon and have no wish to be sued for voicing an opinion which in the end proved to be wrong. Of course I have my own private opinion based on how the main stream media report events, but those are my own private thoughts not to be shared with others. You will have to judge for yourself. One must be lying. Who? It is your call.

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