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STAND-OFF: It insists on Dataran Merdeka for Saturday’s gathering
KUALA LUMPUR: BERSIH’S refusal to hold its sit-in protest on Saturday at one of the four stadiums offered to it has been described as “irrational” by Home Minister Datuk Seri
“It just makes no sense. They have been offered four stadiums to hold the protest but claim it is too late to change venues. This is simply irrational.”
Hishammuddin said there was still plenty of time for the organisers to change the venue and that if they were sincere about holding a peaceful event, they should take up one of the offers.
His statement followed an earlier meeting between City Hall and Bersih organisers where both parties could not reach an agreement on the venue for the protest.
An agitated Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said City Hall was sticking to its decision in not allowing the protest to be held at Dataran Merdeka.
Bersih had been offered either Stadium Cheras, Stadium Titiwangsa, Stadium Bukit Jalil or Stadium Merdeka as an alternative to Dataran Merdeka.
The authorities said holding the protest in a stadium would minimise traffic congestion and disruption to businesses.
In the past week, business operators in the city centre, taxi drivers and several non-governmental organisations had lodged numerous police reports, urging the authorities to stop the protest being held at Dataran Merdeka.
Hishammuddin also assured the organisers that police would help facilitate a peaceful gathering if they chose one of the four alternative venues offered.
"In the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act, I assure Bersih they will be treated fairly if they accept one of our proposed venues."
Fuad said after the one-hour meeting at his office yesterday: "We will continue to uphold the law governing the usage of Dataran Merdeka".
We will do whatever necessary to carry out our duties. We are guardians of Dataran Merdeka even though it is public property."
He then warned that if Bersih did not back down, and if there was chaos on Saturday, the organisers would be held responsible.
Bersih was represented by its co-chairman, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, at the meeting yesterday. She later told reporters that they were not backing down.