KOTA KINABALU: Bersih4 Sabah called on Sabahans to come out, camp out and demand for free and fair elections and a clean government in an overnight, festival-like gathering in the ‘Pesta Demokrasi 24 Jam Bersih4 Kota Kinabalu’, on August 29.
The assembly will be Bersih Sabah committee’s first attempt to hold an overnight rally, with previous peaceful rally attempts such as the Himpunan May Day on May 1 being hampered by police as various areas in the city centre were cordoned off to halt the rally at a public space.
Speaking on behalf of the Bersih4 Sabah organising committee, social activist Jannie Lasimbang announced yesterday that the Pesta Demokrasi 24 Jam Bersih4 Kota Kinabalu would start from 2pm on August 29 to 2pm on August 30.
“We will be holding it 10 hours less than what Bersih4 in KL (Kuala Lumpur) is going to have, but the demands we want to press through this assembly remain the same; to demand for free and fair elections and a clean government, the right to protest, the strengthening of parliamentary democracy and to save the country’s economy,” said Jannie in a press conference here yesterday.
She urged participants to bring overnight amenities such as sleeping bags, portable tents, canvas sheets as well as food to gather in a festival-like assembly where various activities had been planned out, including educational programmes on civil society, entertainments and interactive discussions.
Bersih Sabah would also like to encourage participations from Sabah for the ‘Jom Bersih4Malaysia’ poster design competition which kicked off last week, inviting young talents to show their support through artworks. Online voting for the competition will begin on August 14.
As a way to get people excited about the assembly, the Bersih Sabah committee like its Kuala Lumpur counterparts also encouraged members of the public to join in the ‘Bersih4 Challenge’, by expressing their preparedness to join the assembly through various means including uploading selfies or any relevant photographs on social media, and to challenge their friends to do the same.
“We in Bersih Sabah would also like to express our gratitude to Malaysians including those in Kota Kinabalu who had already initiated their own steps to promote the assembly via posters, tying pieces of yellow cloth to fences, trees, bags and many more, in what is called ‘YellowRising Malaysia’. We hope Sabahans will continue such initiatives to get more people excited about the event.”
In Sabah, the organising committee of Bersih4 consists of Anti Kaiduan Dam Movement, Himpunan Hijau, Gerakan Anak Muda Sabah Menuntut Hak Rakyat (GEGAR), PACOS Trust, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), TONIBUNG, as well as individuals.
Unlike Bersih4 in Kuala Lumpur, Bersih Sabah decided not to announce the venue of the rally to avoid from having the police asked the committee to change its venue so as to stop the rally from being held in a public space.
Jannie, together with fellow social activist Wong Tack of Himpunan Hijau and the rally committee members assured the police and the authority that it would be a peaceful overnight assembly and that security as well as control measures had been taken to ensure this.
“Contrary to what some people say that Bersih’s sole objective is to topple the government, Bersih demands for a clean government. Bersih4 will be a fest-like gathering of people who all believe that we have the right to assemble and speak out issues concerning our rights,” said Jannie.
“We have had previous assemblies, including Himpunan May Day and we have shown that we have always been able to ensure the rally takes place peacefully. We’ve informed the police and hope that they will give good cooperaiton,” said Harieyadi Karmin of GEGAR, in charge of the rally committee’s marshals or security unit.
Wong Tack called on the authority to stop its ‘scare tactics, as there is no reason to use them on the rally.
“I urge the authority, particularly the police force, not to intimidate, create fear, ‘buat kacau’ (cause chaos) against the rakyat who have the constitutional right to come out and express their opinions and uphold justice for this society.
“I also call on all Sabahans to be a responsible citizen, and to come out to be a part of this. This is a critical time this country is facing, not just Sabah. So we hope that more Sabahans will step up,” he said.
According to Jannie, police have been informed of the rally and the committee are hoping for positive response from the police.
In Kuala Lumpur, although police had given the green light for the 34-hour rally (from 2pm on August 29 to 11.59pm on August 30, Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim had said that the police would intervene should there be any seditious element in the rally.
Bersih 4 had been reported to be taking place in three places nationwide, namely Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.