A sign of hard line stance of intimating Bersih 3.0 activists by the authorities is evident by the presence of a vanguard riot squad of 24 Federal Reserves Unit (FRU) policemen who rolled into Padang Merdeka in four Land Rovers at 2 pm, 24 hours before the start of the peaceful gathering.
An officer said, “More will be coming later.”
The FRU policemen are even earlier to set up camp and in the past they had locked down Padang Merdeka for Bersih 2.0.
The Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) has announced that, it did not approve of the Bersih 3.0 gathering as it is holding its own public safety event at the same venue.
Sabah MCLM chief Michael Liew said, “As DBKK did say it is a public event, then there should be no objection to the attendance of Bersih and other NGO supporters as long as they are there to assemble peacefully.”
Sabah Bersih said it did not apply for a permit to use Padang Merdeka as it is a public place and as required under the Peaceful Assembly Act, it only needs to notify the authorities to exercise its right to assemble as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
On April 17, Bersih Sabah issued letters of notification to both the police and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) of their intended peaceful gathering on April 28 in accordance with Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act whereby an organiser shall, ten days before the date of an assembly, notify the officer-in-charge of the Police district in which the assembly is to be held.
Bersih Sabah said it has adhered fully to the condition and will observe its rights under Section 2 of the Peaceful Assembly Act which provides for:
(a) So far as it is appropriate to do so, that all citizens have the right to organise assemblies or to participate in assemblies peaceably and without arms; and
(b) that the exercise of the right to organise assemblies or to participate in assemblies peaceably and without arms, is subject only to restrictions deemed necessary or expedient in a democratic society in the interest of the Federation or any part thereof or public order, including the protection of the rights and freedom of other persons.
Following discussion earlier between the Police, City Hall and Bersih Sabah representatives, no written objections or injunctions were put forward by the authorities nor were there any restrictions imposed on dress code or colour of attire unlike during Bersih 2.0 where some wearing yellow were arrested.
DBKK had stated that it has no restriction on Bersih or Himpunan Hijau activists thronging its public safety event at Padang Merdeka on April 28, hence hopefully such assurance
and good sense will prevail without unpleasantness.