Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to be sacked

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By Maria Begum

A Malaysians cheer a High Court decision declaring Bersih 2.0 legal, calls are growing for Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to be sacked.

It is clear that an increasingly politically-aware Malaysian society want him and his cousin Prime Minister Najib Razak to take responsibility for the police brutality against innocent civilians who were demonstrating for clean polls on July 9 last year.

Hundreds of “unlawful arrests” were made in a bid to quell the spontaneous show of people power, resulting in Malaysia’s image being tarnished as an intolerant and banana-republic-type of dictatorship as the cousins’ shocking and ruthless crackdown made headlines around the world.

“The decision judicially confirms abuse of power and undemocratic conduct by Najib and Hisham. It proves that Najib is a false democrat and an enemy to the rakyat’s (people’s) freedom,” human rights lawyer N Surendran toldMalaysia Chronicle.

Drop all charges immediately

Surendran, who is also a PKR vice president, called for all the criminal cases against the Bersih leaders and participants to be dropped immediately.

“Najib must apologize to Bersih and the nation for his dictatorial actions in July 2011. Hisham must be sacked or removed from his position as Home Minister as he was directly responsible for the witch hunt against the rakyat in June and July last year. This verdict proves Umno’s illegal agenda to subvert the Constitution and to rob the rakyat of their freedoms,” said Surendran.

Hisham had declared Bersih 2.0 unlawful on July 1, citing section 5 of the Societies Act 1966, alleging that investigations had shown that Bersih 2.0 was not a registered organization and that it was creating unease among the people.

However, the high-handed action failed to stop some 50,000 people from all walks of life descending onto the Kuala Lumpur city centre where they tried to march to the Merdeka Stadium to hand a memorandum to King, seeking 8 electoral reforms to be implemented before the next general election.

The peaceful demonstrators were met with police fire. Records rounds of tear gas canisters and acid water were launched directly into the crowds who had to scramble for safety. Their courage in refusing to give up by finally sitting down in the middle of the road, bowing their heads to escape the sting of the tear gas moved the world, who watched through the eyes of the international media and TV networks.

Overseas Malaysians too helped to highlight the unbelievable actions of the Najib administration as it unleashed ruse after ruse to stop the rally which would put pressure on Najib to clean up the country’s notoriously ‘dirty’ electoral system, corrupted by decades of vote-rigging, vote-buying, gerrymandering and phantom electoral rolls.

Unable to change: A leopard cannot drop its spots

But while Tuesday’s court ruling must be sweet for Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan and her team of organisers, who had challenged Hisham’s ban on the movement, few Malaysians have any doubts that Najib would again steam-roll over the people’s rights.

With the 13th general election due to held by April 2013 at the latest, Najib’s BN coalition is in its worst shape ever. Pundits reckon the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has a more than even chance of wresting the federal government, making it imperative for Najib to “cheat even more” if the BN were to stay in power.

Indeed Najib’s response at Bersih 3.0, which was held on April this year, is already conclusive proof that he has no real intention of reforming the electoral system or holding a clean ballot.

Bersih 3.0 drew more than 250,000 Malaysians – the largest ever people’s demonstration in the nation’s 55-year history. The police brutality was even worse than in Bersih 2.0.

Indeed, on April 28, the bloodshed in Kuala Lumpur was unprecedented in recent years as Najib lost control, ordering LRT stations to be closed, trapping the people and exposing them to gang-beatings by marauding groups of policeman.

No forgiveness for Najib and the BN

To calm the public outcry over the Bersih 3.0 nastiness, which caused his popularity rating to drop 4 percentage points to 65%, Najib has done little. He still insists Berish 3.0 was immoral, un-Islamic and an Opposition plot to topple his government.

A special police panel set up to look into the beatings led by former police chief Hanif Omar blamed the police brutality on low-ranking cops, completely omitting and sparing the senior officers from any blame.

“Until and unless Najib and Hisham apologize publicly, they won’t be forgiven by the Malaysian public so easily. It is a hole they have dug for themselves. If they want to save their personal legacy and reputations, what they should do is to ask for public forgiveness, clean up the electoral process and promise a smooth and peaceful transition of power should they people decide against the BN in GE-13,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.

On Tuesday, High Court Judge Rohana Yusuf ruled that the Bersih 2.0 coalition of civil societies, although not officially registered, was a legal society under the Societies Act.

“The minister’s order is quashed because Bersih is a lawful society,” said Rohana, calling Hisham’s decision a “tainted” one. -hornbillunleashed