I have been busy with the Borneo Jazz Festival and the KL International Jazz Festival lately, but still managed to keep an eye on the news. Things are certainly cooking in the Malaysian political scene and events are turning quite melodramatic as the election looms nearer.
For one, the Government is suing Dumbiga and nine others for RM122,000 over damages to vehicles sustained during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally. The suit claims that 10 cars, three motorcycles and two water cannon trucks owned by the Government were damaged when the rally turned chaotic. It also claims that the vehicles were kicked and pelted with stones, water bottles and rocks by rally participants.
Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, Haris Fathillah Mohamed, K. Arumugam, S. Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon and Andrew Khoo were also named as defendants in their capacity as the rally organizers.
Under Section 6(2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (Act 736), the defendants had the responsibility, among others, to ensure that the rally would not damage property. It was further claimed that the April 28 rally went out of control, turned chaotic and had caused damage to the plaintiff's vehicles.
The suit is set for mention on June 13 before High Court judge Justice Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.
Secondly, DBKL enforcement officers are on stand-by in front of Dumbiga’s house in Bukit Damansara to ensure no unauthorized activities take place.
The Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Action Council (KLPTAC) had reportedly planned to set up stalls in front of Ambiga's house in Bukit Damansara in a protest dubbed “Bersih 4.0” supposedly to recoup losses they suffered during the Bersih 3.0 rally.
Apparently the DBKL officers had worked until late at night to paint over the yellow markings drawn by the Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Action Council to demarcate stall lots on the road along her house in preparation for “Bersih 4.0”.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail was reported to have cited the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974, which does not allow people to intrude into other people’s territory, and advised the group not to proceed with its plan. The KLPTAC’s “pasar malam protest” was subsequently called off when good sense prevailed.
KLPTAC chairman Datuk Jamal Md Yunus said they decided to call it off as they did not want to go against City Hall and the police. Jamal, who handed over a memorandum to Ambiga, said the council now planned to gather 150,000 people at the Bukit Jalil stadium on June 23 to express its rejection of the Bersih rallies as well as to promote peace.
“We still want Ambiga to be held responsible for our losses and we don’t want Bersih to organize any more rallies,” he said.
“Malaysians who love peace can attend our rally. They also stand a chance to win a Lamborghini Gallardo and other luxury cars via our lucky draws,” he added. Jamal had previously announced that Internet users could win the Lamborghini Gallardo and a BMW by “liking” the council’s Facebook page.
When asked how the traders could afford such cars, Jamal incredulously said: “As individuals, we will suffer losses. But when we unite, we can afford to give away such gifts, no matter how costly it is.”
Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hit out at the planned protest against Bersih co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga.
“We understand that you are upset because of Bersih 3.0 but this country has laws. You want to sue Ambiga, go ahead, but gathering in front of her house to cook things she doesn't eat (beef), showing your backside, then organising a pasar malam what is all this?” said Tengku Adnan. He said such gatherings were unbecoming of Malaysians, and urged authorities to put an immediate stop to such events.
Not surprisingly, all 31 Selangor DAP Councillors called on the Kuala Lumpur mayor to resign for not taking action against the petty traders.
Thirdly, a group calling itself Gerakan Belia Gagasan 1Malaysia converged outside Dumbiga’s house in Bukit Damansara to voice their protest against the April 28 rally. The group of 50 youths wearing white T-shirts with the word Halau 1.0 shouted slogans of “Bersih kotor!” and “Halau Ambiga!”. They handed over a memorandum to Ambiga and demanded that she apologize to all Malaysians for the damage caused due to Bersih rallies.
They were watched by more than a hundred police and City Hall enforcement officers, who were on standby at Ambiga’s residence since yesterday afternoon. Vehicles were not stopped from passing the area. Gerakan Belia Gagasan 1Malaysia president Shahrul Nasrun Kamarudin then handed over a memorandum for Dumbiga to Bersih co-chairman Datuk A. Samad Said.
The Spanker says syabas to KLPTAC’s chairman Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunus for calling off the protest at Dumbiga’s house because the Police and the DBKL advised him. Whatever our views, we should always respect the law.
In the same vein Gerakan Belia 1Malaysia also deserve a syabas. They were demonstrating peacefully to voice their feelings, right?
Remember it is Dumbiga and Bersih’s own argument that people can protest peacefully wherever they want – with or without Police and DBKL approval. So why now make noise when the shoe is on the other foot?