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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Bersih 2.0 Rally: Ambiga unfazed by Perkasa belligerence
By Hafiz Yatim | MalaysiaKini
Despite chances of a head-on collision on July 9 with Malay rights group Perkasa planning a counter-protest to stop the Bersih 2.0 rally, its chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan is unfazed over this possibility and reiterated that the Bersih rally to back free and fair elections will go on.
Contacted by Malaysiakini this afternoon, Ambiga said she respected the views aired by Perkasa chairperson Ibrahim Ali, who declared Perkasa was ready to “fight to the end” (lawan habis-habisan) to stop the rally if the organisers insisted on taking to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9.
“(If they proceed), there will be a clash (pertembungan). If that happens, it is for the better,” Ibrahim told a press conference in the Parliament lobby today.
Ambiga (right) said the Bersih rally would be a responsible, peaceful rally fighting noble ideals of seeking a free and fair elections in the country.
“Many people share this feeling, they have strongly voiced the need for this and are supporting us. I have no quarrel with those (Perkasa) opposing the rally as it is in line with democratic process of freedom of association,” she said.
“The Bersih rally will go on despite whatever people want to say or the police reports lodged. We will not be intimidated,” the former Bar Council chairperson said.
What was important was that Bersih 2.0 wanted a peaceful assembly and at the same time, it hoped that the view of the authorities (police) about peaceful assemblies would change as well.
Ambiga said she respected the people’s right to their own opinions, whether they were opposed to the rally or supported, as this was a democratic country.
Earlier today, Ibrahim, who is the Independent MP for Pasir Mas, said Perkasa would march against the Bersih 2.0 demonstrators to show that not all Malaysians agree with its claim about ‘dirty’ elections.
His NGO, he claimed, was acting in the interests of democracy.
“I cannot imagine, when they bring a big crowd and start throwing stones, burning cars… Perkasa will go down to make sure we stop (the Bersih rally),” Ibrahim had said.
Police reports have also piled up nationwide against the Bersih rally.
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Referring to the police reports, Ambiga said individuals have the right to make police reports against Bersih or any other organisation.
“As I have stressed, people have their own opinions and we respect them. At the same time, there are many who have come up to support us and are willing to join the rally,” she said.
Ambiga, who was earlier this year bestowed the International Women of Courage award, said Bersih would hold a gathering at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Sunday, where the rally would be discussed and all political parties were invited to attend.
Those who turn up would be allowed to speak freely, whether in support of or against the rally and Bersih would respect whatever views they held.
Ambiga has also invited BN party members to participate in the rally.
Penang Gerakan human rights and legal bureau chief Baljit Singh said last week that about 10 lawyers from the state would join the Bar Council in monitoring the July 9 rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Asked about the claim of Kulim Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin that she is anti-Islamic, Ambiga again reiterated this is a democratic opinion and her view as is with the Bar Council, that everybody is entitled to his or her own religion as protected under the Federal Constitution.
“I have never gone against any religion but have advocated freedom of religion,” she said.
Asked to estimate as to how many would turn up for the July 9 rally, she said it would be difficult to do so.
“There has been a lot of support for the rally, as you can see. Even opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is prepared to join,” she said.
The first Bersih rally on Nov 10, 2007, saw some 40,000 people on the streets, clad in yellow T-shirts.
Posted by Richard Loh at 3:24 PM