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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hisham raises eyebrows, warns Khairy to scrap July 9 rally plans

Sulaiman Kamal | 1:34 AM | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Hisham raises eyebrows, warns Khairy to scrap July 9 rally plans
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein raised eyebrows when he said the plan by UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin to hold a rally on July 9 to counter the Bersih 2.0 gathering did not reflect UMNO's stand.
"How can that be? Is he saying UMNO Youth is a renegade wing, what is happening there?" Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye told Malaysia Chronicle.
Indeed, the strength of Hisham's warning has raised doubts on whether Khairy's decision had the backing of the Youth committee or if it was "lone-ranger" effort. So far, Khairy has not commented on Hisham's warning.
At a press conference on Friday, Hisham reiterated that any rally held without a police permit was illegal, and if UMNO Youth took part, those who were caught would have to face the consequences.
“When it comes to that, it doesn’t matter whether I’m former Youth chief or not. They will have to face whatever consequences [for] their action… and it’s purely Pemuda’s stand,” Hisham told reporters.
“They will have to deal with the police. I expect the police to do the same with the three rallies. We are looking it at a legal standpoint. Nobody is above the law. That’s always been my position.”
Slap in the face
Khairy had announced late Thursday that the Youth would hold a rally on the same day to “strengthen the democratic system”. But although his group plans to use the same route as the Bersih march, he said it will not join the Bersih rally.
He also stressed that unlike Bersih, which is holding the peacful gathering to highlight the need for electoral reform, UMNO Youth supported the existing system.
The third group planning to march on July 9 is ultra Malay rights group Perkasa, which wants Bersih to cancel its rally.
While both UMNO Youth and its sister unit unit Perkasa have insisted their basis for choosing the same day as Bersih was due to their love for democracy, pundits suspect they were out to cause trouble and pressure election watchdog body to cancel.
"No, we have no plans at all to cancel. Everything is systems go," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"We won't be deterred by all the sandiwara from UMNO. It's a waste of time. Bersih is not a Pakatan show although we support it strongly. The people are the ones who have a message to express, otherwise they won't attend. What they want is free, fair and clean elections. That's all, why come down so hard on them."
Prime Minister Najib Razak sees the Bersih's Walk for Democracy as a slap in the face for his leadership. The rally is supported by most of the NGOs in the country as well as the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition.

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