Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 29th June 2011:
When will Hishammuddin or IGP announce that it is unlawful and a police arrestable offence for anyone to wear or sport yellow until July 9, because yellow is the colour of Bersih 2.0?
Just four days ago in Ipoh on Saturday, I had called on the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to “stop the madness where a person can be detained by the police for wearing the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt, as if he/she is more dangerous than Osama bin Laden”.
Clearly, I had directed my call at the wrong person as Hishammuddin is now at the heart of the “madness” with his announcement this morning that Bersih 2.0 T-shirts are illegal and that it is a police arrestable offence to wear them.
The question Malaysians must pose is whether Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's “Government Transformation Programme” has reached a stage where Ministers can unilaterally make laws like Hishammuddin declaring Bersih 2.0 T-shirts are illegal to justify police arrests and seizures?
Hishammuddin did not mention under what law the Bersih 2.0 T-shirts could be considered illegal and unlawful. The reason is simple – there is no such law, unless Malaysia's democratic governance has degenerated to a stage where a Minister could unilaterally declare a law “on the run” as the Home Minister has done this morning.
The question is whether the Malaysian judiciary has degenerated to a new low where it would uphold the such Ministerial abuses of power in arbitrarily and unilaterally making a law “on the run” without parliamentary sanction.
If supporting the holding of a peaceful and orderly Bersih 2.0 rally calling for free, fair and clean elections like the yellow Bersih 2.0 T-shirts is regarded as arrestable offence by the police, what is the reason for the double standards where the Police do not regard support for counter-Bersih rallies like the Umno Youth rally and the supportive red “Patriot” T-shirts or the Perkasa rally with the bloodcurdling, inflammatory and seditious speeches by Perkasa officials threatening bloodshed and chaos, as unlawful but completely proper and within the bounds of the law?
Hishammuddin is a trained lawyer and knows that he is making nonsense of the law in unilaterally declaring Bersih 2.0 T-shirts as illegal, when the Bersih organisation has not been declared illegal nor has the word “Bersih” been gazetted as illegal.
What is noteworthy is that it was the Home Minister himself who was the first to declare publicly this morning that it is illegal and a police arrestable offence to wear the Bersih 2.0 T-shirts.
It is public knowledge that in the past several days, police officers had been put under tremendous pressure to arrest on sight persons who wear the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt although there is nothing in the law to justify such abuses of power – with the majority of police personnel rightly refusing to comply with a ludicrous interpretation of the law.
In Ipoh, in reply to my Saturday statement demanding to know under what law could the police arrest persons for wearing the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police rightly pointed out that it is not an offence to wear the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt and that it was only illegal to wear T-shirts declared and gazetted as illegal and unlawful.
Clearly, Hishammuddin has decided to ride roughshod over legitimate questions and concerns among the various levels of police about the legality and propriety of arresting persons for wearing the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt by unilaterally and personally declaring that Bersih 2.0 T-shirts are illegal and wearing them is an arrestable police offence.
Such an announcement, if any, should come from the Inspector-General of Police and not the Home Minister.
It was only after the Home Minister had forced the issue with his unilateral and arbitrary Ministerial announcement this morning that the IGP, Tan Sir Ismail Omar followed suit a few hours later this evening to declare that the police will not only arrest those sporting Bersih 2.0 T shirts but may also take action against anyone using any medium to promote the July 9 rally - “Not just T-shirts but shoes, cars, buses.”
This is Malaysian “madness” in full bloom!
When will Hishammuddin or Ismail announce that it is unlawful and an arrestable police offence for anyone to wear or sport yellow until July 9, because yellow is the colour of Bersih 2.0?
Is there anyone in the Najib Cabinet who dare to take a stand in Cabinet to demand an end of such “madness” or to resign from the Cabinet in disgust at such gross abuse of Executive powers?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor