Friday 8 July 2011

Bersih 2.0 warns of telco, Internet blackout

With less than 48 hours to the Bersih 2.0 rally, the movement now claims to have received information that the mobile phone networks and Internet services would be suspended this weekend.

In a statement today, the Bersih 2.0 steering committee said that such measures to frustrate the rally would make the authorities no different from Middle-Eastern dictators.

“Bersih 2.0 is alarmed by intelligence that there might be a full or partial clampdown on the Internet as we approach this weekend.

“Bersih 2.0 warns the federal government that should access to the mobile phone networks, the Internet, mobile 3G services, specific websites or social media be compromised in any way, then the authorities will look absolutely no different from the Middle-Eastern dictators who have used the same measures with no success whatsoever,” it said.

The steering committee said repression, intimidation and other obstacles will not deter the movement's resolve to gather at Stadium Merdeka at 2pm on Saturday.

“After which, we will disperse just as peacefully,” read the statement.

Should any of such repressive measures come into effect, the authorities would be seen as desperate and show an inclination towards unwarranted extremes in preventing free and fair elections, it said.
'Who said so?'
The police, however, deny talk of a telecommunication services disruption to thwart the rally planned by Bersih 2.0.

Anybody who spread such rumour will be arrested and charged, said inspector-general of police Ismail Omar.

"Don't make your own assumption. Who spread this rumour? There are irresponsible people spreading rumour to discredit the authorities and police.

"We will take action against them and bring them to court," he told a press conference at Bukit Aman federal police headquarters today.

Asked whether police will restrict movements into the city on Saturday, Ismail said the police will regulate the traffic.

"Regulation on the traffic is the obligation of police. We have to prevent any untoward incident."
'Enter KL before Saturday'

Meanwhile, the Bersih steering committee is also urged rally participants to enter Kuala Lumpur today or tomorrow in view of an expected tight clampdown of the city centre by tomorrow.

“Observing the shocking fact that bus permits to Kuala Lumpur have already been frozen, plans seem to be well in place to make entering (the city on Saturday) as difficult as humanly possible,” the statement said.

Police have been mounting roadblocks during rush hour traffic since yesterday, ostensibly to check for weapons and weed out possible protestors.

Additionally, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairperson Syed Hamid Albar has also confirmed that temporary bus permits would not be issued for busses entering Kuala Lumpur this weekend.

However, Syed Hamid said that this was not a new directive in view of the rally and that it was a policy not to issue such permits during non-festival seasons. 

After being granted an audience with the Agong, Bersih 2.0 has agreed to government suggestions to hold the rally in a stadium and not on the streets.

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