Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Bersih is a legal entity, rules court

Updated 11.40am

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has quashed the home minister's declaration on July 1 last year that the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) is an "unlawful" organisation.

However, the court did not grant the two prayers sought by Bersih for the coalition to be registered.
Justice Rohana Yusof in her decision this morning said Bersih has successfully proven its case in challenging the government's declaration.

She also ruled the home minister’s declaration as "tainted".

"Hence, we are allowing the applicant's application (for judicial review of the government's declaration), with no order as to costs," she said.

NONESenior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad, representing the respondents, said the attorney-general would be briefed and further instructions sought.
Bersih co-chairperson and national laureate A Samad Said (left) said the outlawing of the coalition was unnecessary.

"The legal process has wasted time, energy and government funds. This process also caused unnecessary fear to the people," he said outside the court.

"The government branded Bersih as dirty (kotor). Statements from the prime minister and the authorities last week said Bersih has affected the quota for haj set by the Saudi (Arabian) government."

NONEThe 14-member Bersih steering committee led by Ambiga Sreenevasan (right) had named the home minister, inspector-general of police and the government as respondents.

Apart from Ambiga, the plaintiffs include Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, S Arul Prakkash, K Arumugam, Haris Fathillah Mohamed Ibrahim, Andrew Khoo Chin Hock, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, SP Subramaniam, Toh Kin Woon, Wong Chin Huat, Yeo Yang Poh, Yeoh Yong Woi and Zaid Kamaruddin.

Claims and counter-claims

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and the Registrar of Societies (ROS) had declared the coalition to be unlawful, prior to the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9.

Hishammuddin said the declaration was made under Section 5 of the Societies Act 1966 as investigations had shown that Bersih was not a registered organisation and that it was creating unease among the people.

Two days later, Bersih stated that coalitions need not be registered with the ROS.

The coalition filed a judicial review application on July 8 to challenge the declaration.

It said that it had held numerous meetings with the government and the Election Commission prior to the declaration.

hishammuddin hussein dang wangi police station pc 1It further claimed that Bersih is not a society within the meaning of the Societies Act and that the government has no power to declare a group of organisations as "unlawful".

Hishammuddin (right) had on April 10 given the nod to Bersih to organise its third rally seeking electoral reforms, ruling out the possibility that it posed a security threat.
Based on this, Justice Rohana sought clarification from the senior federal counsel.

On May 15, however, the court threw out Bersih's application to cross-examine Hishammuddin and police chief Ismail Omar.
At the time, it ruled that Bersih was still unlawful according to Hishammuddin.

[More to follow]

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