Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bersih PC disrupted, two arrested

Bersih PC disrupted, two arrested
Azreen Madzlan | Feb 15, 08 4:00pm

Police today stopped polls reform group Bersih from holding a press conference in front of Istana Negara and in the process arrested PKR’s Information Chief Tian Chua. Also arrested was a PAS member identified as Jalaluddin Abdul Manap.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 meetEarlier, a delegation of Bersih leaders had submitted a protest note - addressed to the King - with regards to the fairness of the upcoming elections slated for March 8.

The police had maintained a close watch on the group and moved in as soon as Bersih called for a press conference after submitting their memorandum at about 3pm.

Tian Chua was arrested when he tried to prevent the police from confiscating a Bersih banner while Jalaluddin was arrested after he ignored a police warning to stop distributing leaflets calling the EC chairperson ‘a liar’.

PAS Research Centre director Dr Dzulkifli Ahamd was heard pleading to the police officers to release Jalaluddin.

"This is so cruel. Please release the old man. He’s old and has a heart condition. I’m willing to trade myself with him as long as you release him," he said.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 penipu liar jalaluddin abdul manapThe Bersih and PAS delegations included Dzulkifli, Bersih secretariat member Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi , PAS Vice-Presidents Ahmad Awang and Mohamad Sabu, PAS treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli, and PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub.

Bersih - represented by Dzulkifli and Syed Azman - and PAS - represented by Mat Sabu and Hatta Ramli - managed to hand over their memorandum to an Istana Negara ‘customer service officer’, Mohd Hasmuni Abd Shukor.

Apparently, police only allowed four of the delegates to submit the memorandum to Hasmuni at the palace’s second entrance located near the palace’s main entrance.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 bannerThere was heavy presence of police and FRU at the second entrance.

Indelible ink concern

In their memorandum, Bersih and PAS called for a royal commission on electoral reform to be set up after the general election. Bersih is also initiating a nationwide signature campaign to back their memorandum.

Bersih is also demanding for:

  • the cleaning up of ‘phantom voters’ from the electoral roll.
  • for EC to make the use of indelible ink compulsory for all voters as at the moment, a voter can refuse to be marked by the ink.
  • the abolishment of postal voting for the armed forces and police personnel.
  • free and fair media access for all parties and candidates.
  • a 21-day campaign period.

Announcing the polling date yesterday, EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman could not confirm whether the use of indelible ink will be implemented for the upcoming election.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 masjid negara police stationThere have been concerns over the introduction of some of the new anti-cheating measures as election laws have not been amended to make them legally binding.

Meanwhile, there was some confusion at the Istana Negara entrances today when the two groups from the Bersih and PAS delegation were separated.

When contacted, Hatta said there was a mix-up over which palace gate the memorandum would be submitted at as there was also another palace gate at Jalan Bellamy - the third gate.

When the second group arrived there, police refused to allow them to proceed to the second gate to join in the memorandum submission.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 acceptThe delegation’s second group included PKR Information Chief Tian Chua and Tenaganita executive director, Irene Fernandez.

Police moved in to make arrests after Bersih members called for a press conference just after handing over their memorandum outside the palace’s second gate with supporters holding a yellow banner and posters of the EC chief.

No permit but allowed

Brickfield’s deputy police chief, Supt. Azri Abd Rahman had earlier told the crowd to disperse but Bersih’s representatives asked to be allowed to brief the reporters at the event.

"Please disperse. You can do your press conference anywhere but here," Azri said.

bersih istana negara memo 150208 repAzri told reporters later Tian Chua and Jalaluddin were arrested for obstructing police duties. The duo were taken to the Brickfields police station for questioning.

Azri clarified that although Bersih had not applied for a police permit for their event, police had nevertheless still allowed them to submit their memorandum to the palace. He added 243 policemen and 26 police officers were present at the scene today.

Asked to comment on Tian Chua’s arrest, he replied: "Well, I don’t know if he is (Tian Chua) but as I have been told, he looks like Tian Chua."

bersih istana negara memo 150208 salahuddin ayubAzri further said that for the general election campaigning period, anyone could apply for a police permit to hold a public assembly as long as they complied with public security rules.

Later, at a press conference held by Bersih at the PAS headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut, Syed Azman questioned the police’s action in dispersing the crowd outside the Istana Negara.

"The police reacted brutally and in an aggressive manner in dispersing us," he said.

"Why did they act in this manner? It was not a rally or a demonstration. It was just a memorandum giving event and the palace even received our memorandum," he added.


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