|The protests would serve to “educate” voters about the authorities |
who condoned them, said Ambiga. — File p
KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan will not take legal action against those responsible for staging protest gatherings outside her home, and said she would rather rely on the “court of public opinion”.
Despite acknowledging the potential security threats to her person and family members, the Bersih 2.0 co-chair said the past few incidents were good educational opportunities for Malaysian voters as it would help them make the right decision when casting their ballots on polling day.
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“I have no plans at the moment (to take legal action). For me, I am actually interested in the court of public opinion, more than anything else.
“For me, this is all part of voter education. I think voters will be able to have a look at this and see if this is the type of Malaysia that they want... will they then vote for people who support these sorts of things?” she told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
Ambiga’s private residence in Bukit Damansara has been the target of protest gatherings of late, in the uproar that followed the Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair elections.
To date, two separate groups have held protests outside her home.
The first involved some 10 traders who prepared about 200 chicken and beef burgers, and even offered some to the Bersih leader, who is vegetarian and a Hindu.
The group also promised a larger protest with 500 traders but later cancelled the May 24 event, saying they had taught Ambiga a lesson after Bersih said there were no plans for another rally.
A few days later, about 10 retired soldiers from the Malay Armed Forces Veterans Association (PVTM) exercised their bottoms outside of Ambiga’s house to protest against the Bersih chief for being — according to them — an “enemy” of the nation.
On Sunday, about 60 petty traders told a news conference that they planned to open up stalls in front Ambiga’s house tomorrow and Friday, with the hope of recouping the losses they suffered during the Bersih 3.0 rally in the city on April 28.
But the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has since denied the group permission to do so, with KL Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail saying yesterday that the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 does not allow people to intrude into other people’s territory.
“They (the petty traders) must ask for our permission, but we will not allow. People make mistakes and we know they (Bersih 3.0) made mistakes... we should not follow. If everybody follows (the mistakes) and ignore the law, what will happen to our country?” he was quoted as saying on Bernama Online.
Yesterday, DBKL officers also moved to clean up the road in front of Ambiga’s house, which had been defaced with paint by a group of petty traders.
Despite the incidents, Ambiga maintains that she has no immediate plans to sue those responsible or those who may still insist on turning up to set up the night market tomorrow.
“I think DBKL has been very good... they cleaned up the paint. The police have also been driving past now and then and checking on the house. I assume they will do what is needed to stop the traders.
“Otherwise, I will just let it be. Let’s just stop and see what they plan to do,” she said, referring to the traders.
Ambiga said her main concern now was to shift the nation’s focus from the petty protests to Bersih’s actual objective, which is to ensure the coming elections are free and fair.
She said that Bersih would soon submit its findings to Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), which has decided to commence a public inquiry into the April 28 protest.
“We will also proceed with our voter education programmes and still press for electoral reforms.
“We have many things to do so we do not want to talk about these people (traders) any more. Let’s move back to the agenda at hand — we owe it to the 250,000 people who joined us on April 28,” she said.
Tens of thousands of Malaysians converged on the streets of the capital on April 28 to participate in Bersih 3.0, the polls watchdog’s third rally for free and fair elections.
Despite a peaceful start, chaos erupted shortly before 3pm when several protesters breached the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka, prompting police to fire tear gas canisters and water cannons to disperse them.