The police anticipate making preventive arrests to foil the planned July 9 street demonstration by electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0. Deputy inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar said he expects the gathering to disrupt public order and cause traffic jams, according to Star Online.
"We will take the necessary precautions, which include making preventive arrests before and during the rally," Khalid told reporters at the Cheras police academy today. He said that no permits have been issued to the organisers or groups planning counter-protests.
"We have received a total of 418 police reports from business operators, travel agencies, and individuals protesting the rally which is supposed to be held," he said.
Bersih 2.0 is organising a mass rally to demand electoral reforms and will submit a petition to the Agong to seek his attention on the matter.
A similar rally organised by its predecessor Bersih was held in November 2007 to pressure the government into mandating the use of indelible ink to mark those who had cast their ballots to prevent them from voting twice. Other demands at the time included a thorough update of the electoral roll, eliminating the postal voting system and providing opposition parties access to the mainstream media.
PAS wants action against Perkasa
Bersih 2.0's leader Ambiga Sreenevasan argued that none of these recommendations have been implemented and the rally was a "last resort" after various attempts to engage the authorities failed.
In addition to the 2007 demands, Bersih 2.0 is seeking automatic voter registration for those aged 21, a postal voting system for out-of-town voters, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, independence of enforcement bodies on election offences and stamping electoral graft.
PAS, meanwhile, has urged the police to take action against Perkasa and other groups who are planning a counter-rally. In a statement today, PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Perkasa has been making inflammatory statements about the Bersih 2.0 rally with absolute impunity.
“The (lack of) action by the police is as though the country has no laws and an NGO is allowed to flout the laws and issue various provocative statements freely,” he said.
Justifying PAS's participation in the rally, Tuan Ibrahim said discussions would soon be sought with the Election Commission to prove that the party was not demonstrating for the sake of it.
“We want to show the government how serious is the people's anger towards an unjust system by marching,” he said.
Among his causes for suspicion of electoral roll integrity, Tuan Ibrahim cites allegations that identity cards were given to illegal immigrants in Selangor, Kedah and Kelatan along with allegations of an exponential increase in new voters in Selangor, Kedah and Pahang.
Meanwhile, the steering committee of Bersih 2.0 extended an olive branch and said that they intend to work with the police on the day of the rally.
“Bersih 2.0 believes that with cooperation from all parties including the authorities, the rally can proceed quickly and without disturbance as proven during the 'Walk And Rawk for Change' in conjunction with International Women's Day in March and the 'Stop Lynas Solidarity Walk' on May 20.
“With respect to the many police reports filed against the rally, we wish to assure the public that this rally is intended to be a peaceful, responsible gathering and we will be taking all the necessary steps to ensure that it proceeds in this manner,” said the committee in a statement today.
BERSIH: Amaran polis buat tangkapan pencegahan