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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Send telegram to defend Ambiga, Bersih

RK Anand | FMT

Disappointed with the continued harassment of Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga, a MIC leader has called on Malaysians to send a message to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

S Vell Paari suggested a telegram protest to get the point across and this was backed by NGO WargaAman and PKR vice-president N Surendran.

The MIC central working committee member said the issue had transcended political and racial boundaries.

According to Vell Paari, Ambiga and Bersih were fighting for free and fair elections and he found it difficult to digest the accusation that it was an attempt to topple the government.

“I know the critics will ask ‘why must MIC get involved in this?’ But I am making this call not as a member of MIC but on a personal note because I believe what they are doing is wrong.

“Demanding Ambiga to pay for the damages and to compensate for ‘overtime’ as well as for the food and drinks given to DBKL staff is downright ridiculous,” he told FMT.

Vell Paari said Bersih was given a police permit to hold the rally and the electoral watchdog did not erect the steel barriers outside Dataran Merdeka.

“So how can DBKL charge Ambiga for the barriers? When you have people like this, Barisan Nasional does not need enemies,” he added.

He also questioned why Ambiga and Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah were targeted and not others like national laureate A Samad Said, who was the co-chairperson of Bersih.

Vell Paari was responding to letter of demand from DBKL seeking more than RM350,000 from the two Bersih leaders with regard to the losses incurred during the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

Previously, the government demanded RM122,000 from Bersih for the damage to police vehicles during the rally.

Prior to that, disgruntled burger sellers set up a stall outside Ambiga’s residence to protest the losses suffered due to the Bersih 3.0 rally and this was followed by a vulgar aerobic exercise.

However, the Bersih chairperson refused to be intimidated and vowed to continue her struggle for free and fair elections.

Vell Paari said Malaysians should send a telegram, addressed to Najib to express their dissatisfaction over the harassment.

“I know this will ruffle the feathers of some people in power but I refuse to stand by and watch Ambiga being harassed for fighting for something she believes in. So the PM must intervene to stop this harassment,” he stressed.

“So go to your nearest post office and send the telegram; it is a small price to pay in return for Ambiga’s huge sacrifice,” he added.

Send telegrams to WargaAman office

Supporting the telegram protest, WargaAman secretary-general S Barathidasan lauded Vell Paari for having the courage to make the suggestion.

He said the NGO was willing to participate in this effort and Malaysians could post their telegrams to WargaAman’s office located at: 260-2, second floor, Batu 2 ½, Jalan Ipoh, 51200, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

“We will then collect the telegrams and submit them to the Prime Minister’s Office,” he added, urging Malaysians of all races to lend support to the cause.

Criticising DBKL over its letter of demand, Barathidasan said the move was a clear form of harassment.

“Instead of looking into the points raised by Bersih regarding free and fair elections, the authorities are choosing to penalise Ambiga and her associates,” he told FMT.

In a related development, Surendran also welcomed the telegram protest to exert pressure on the government to withdraw its legal actions.

“Any form of legitimate and peaceful pressure to stop an unjust act must be welcomed. I think it is a good and peaceful manner to put the point across to the government,” said the PKR vice-president.

“It allows an avenue for the people to express their unhappiness and discontent over the persecution of Ambiga and Bersih.

“The telegram protest is a positive thing and it will help send the message that the public is upset with what the government is doing,” he added.

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