The home minister today appeared to blame the chaos during last year’s Bersih rally on the organisers’ refusal to accept the government’s offer to hold it in a stadium instead.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today was asked to comment on last Saturday’s mega-rally that was organised by the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
He pointed out that the authorities did not stop rallies in other states that culminated in the mass rally in Kuala Lumpur, saying that there should be “engagement” before such events.
“When a stadium is offered and a stadium is rejected and there is intention to mengempurkan (riot) in certain incidents, that becomes a lesson to us that cannot be repeated,” Hishammuddin said at a press conference here.
“The last one Bersih, for example, they refused the stadium...at the end of the day, see what happened. That is a lesson to all...” he later repeated, this time making a clear reference to the Bersih rally for electoral reform last year.
On April 28 last year, Bersih 2.0 had said that it wanted to organise its third rally at Dataran Merdeka, but the police obtained a court order barring the public from entering the historic square.
The government also offered the rally organisers alternative venues including the Bukit Jalil Stadium and Stadium Merdeka, but Bersih 2.0 turned down the offer that was given just days before the rally, saying that it was too last-minute.
The electoral reform group, however, was denied the use of Stadium Merdeka by the government for its second rally on July 9, 2011.
Earlier during the same press conference, Hishammuddin said that last Saturday’s Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally presents a “new landscape”.
“I am thankful because there were no unwanted incidents. If all are responsible, agree with the stadium that was determined, no provocation on the way to the stadium, I believe what we see on Saturday is a new landscape.”
When asked about Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s chants of “Merdeka” (Independence) at the Saturday rally in Stadium Merdeka, he said, “It’s up to him. It does not affect security for now.”
But the Umno leader criticised Anwar for his alleged breaching of barricades set up around Dataran Merdeka last year.
“But before this, when he merempuh (breached) Dataran Merdeka that was not allowed, in a situation that purposely wants to create huru-hara (chaos), the authorities, especially the police, were forced to take action.
“But if it goes on smoothly, want to shout, want to scream for one morning, one night in the stadium, if it doesn’t affect security, we can get a win-win situation because it gives space for them to express.”
He said that those who turned up at the mega-rally are just a “minority”, in comparison with the “majority” represented by the country’s population of 28 million.
He said the voice of the rally participants should be "balanced" with the majority voice of Malaysians who still want security and public peace.
Last Saturday's rally saw the organisers and tens of thousands of participants working together with the police to keep it peaceful to the end.
This was in sharp contrast to the chaos in the aftermath of previous rallies held by Bersih, where rally participants were sprayed with tear gas and chemical-laced water.
The rally, also known as "KL112", was used by PR and civil society leaders to champion various issues ahead of Election 2013 — including a push for clean and fair elections, free tertiary education, fairer distribution of oil royalty for oil-producing states and a stop to the Lynas rare-earth plant in Kuantan.
*He said that those who turned up at the mega-rally are just a “minority”, in comparison with the “majority” represented by the country’s population of 28 million.
Why Umno always sound like a broken record? Ok, sure Hisham, you are right. The remaining 28mil minus 100 thousands will vote Umno. Why not fulfill Bersih demand, stop with the BR1M vote baiting, and free msm to opposition since 28mil minus 100 thousands will 100% support you. Go ahead have the GE now in fact.
Hishamuddin just wanted to give excuses as the rally turned out well. If the rally had turned violent, he will come out with his gun blazing & blame PR for the fiasco. Now he has nothing to blame & the best he can do is to give excuse that the last Bersih rally didn't accept stadiums as venue. If the authorities had given permission to rally at Dataran Merdeka, nothing will happen because we are civilized people, unlike the so-called elected lawmakers who have pea brain!
Further the Mayor & DBKL are UMNO's running dogs & they were the ones who refused to give permit for the Bersih rally as they received instruction from their UMNO masters. We showed civility & respect for the laws & behave accordingly as civilized Malaysians. Don't treat us as if we are the enemies. Long live the Rakyat!
Hisham, don't make yourself look any worse. Why is that every time you open your mouth to say something, it is just so incoherent? We really need to clean house and have good quality MP and cabinet members.
Bersih chaos is due to your stupidity in handling the situation and nothing else!