“The government needs to learn from this incident. To ensure peace and safety, the authorities should immediately act against the troublemakers. Don’t waste the support of more than 4,000 non-governmental organisations and individuals who have lodged police reports against Bersih.
“The delay in taking action against the organisers and supporters of the illegal rally on July 9 can erode the people’s support because the government is seen as unable to implement the law. So, do not send the wrong message to the people, (that you are) afraid to take any action against the opposition leaders and Bersih organisers,” the Malay-language daily wrote in an editorial today.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Ismail Omar announced two days ago that Bersih 2.0 marchers arrested during the July 9 rally will be charged soon for taking part in what the authorities have classified as an illegal assembly, with the police confident of wrapping up investigations this week.
Police arrested nearly 1,700 people, including Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, and Pakatan Rakyat leaders during the rally for electoral reforms.
Ismail was cited as saying two days ago by state news agency Bernama that his men were still looking into the issues played up by various individuals, saying that there are some who continued to make statements that did not portray the actual situation that day.
“Police chief Tan Sri Ismail Omar had said that a thorough investigation regarding the rally is expected to complete this week. But more importantly is that immediate action is taken, including charging those who were involved.
“As long as there is no legal action against the Bersih organisers who had triggered chaos in the capital city ly, it will seem like they are free to continue to spread accusations during their political talks,” the editorial continued.
City police obtained a court order banning 91 individuals from entering Kuala Lumpur on July 9, while almost 200 were picked up prior to the rally.
The police have released all those arrested except for six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, who are being detained under the Emergency Ordinance for allegedly attempting to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The six were supposedly found with T-shirts bearing the likenesses of former communist leaders.
“What we are concerned about is the wrong perception will arise if the authorities are too careful and slow to take action against those who were involved. It will even give chance to the group to manipulate the Bersih demonstration as is happening now,” it said.
The ruling BN coalition has been on the defensive over the rally, with international media from Singapore to the UK criticising the government’s handling of public dissent.
Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also claimed the Bersih movement was a veiled attempt to topple his administration through street demonstrations akin to those that are now claiming Middle Eastern despots.
Bersih claimed that 50,000 people showed up for its rally despite efforts to prevent the gathering from taking place. Police said there were 6,000.
The protest turned chaotic when police fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of former military man Baharuddin Ahmad, 59.
The government has promised to investigate allegations of police brutality while the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will hold a separate public inquiry into police conduct during the rally. - TMI