KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail has expressed support for poll reform group Bersih 2.0’s right to hold its fifth mass rally, clarifying that he never suggested otherwise.
He said his previous statement that Bersih 2.0 should try a different, “sophisticated” approach for its human rights campaign did not mean he opposes the group’s right to public assembly.
“Of course I support,” Razali told Malay Mail Online yesterday when asked on the matter.
“I expressed a personal view about what demonstrations get, but I support the principle, the right to demonstrate,” he added.
Razali, a distinguished former diplomat who was last month appointed as the new head of Suhakam, said in an interview with The Star that the electoral reform group had the right to hold public rallies, but questioned their effectiveness in conveying messages to the authorities.
Reacting to the statement, Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah rebuked Razali for allegedly mocking the tens of thousands of Malaysians who took part in last year’s 34-hour Bersih 4 rally with remarks on their hygiene.
The group yesterday confirmed that the anticipated Bersih 5 rally will be held this year at an unspecified date and time, claiming it already has permission from the authorities.
Razali lauded the authorities for allowing Bersih 2.0 to proceed with its planned fifth rally.
“We should support Bersih and I think the government should be commended for understanding the nature of things,” he said.
The new Suhakam chief then expressed confidence that the planned rally would take place without any untoward incident.
Chin yesterday said that Bersih 5 will be a continuation of the Bersih 4 rally that took place from August 29 to August 30 last year that saw thousands stay overnight on the streets of the national capital.
Bersih 2.0 is also seeking to hold a series of roadshows to raise awareness on the agenda of its rally, to be held in light of the United States Department of Justice’s civil lawsuit to seize assets worth over US$1 billion (RM 4.03 billion) allegedly obtained using 1Malaysia Development Berhad funds.