Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 said today its chairman Thomas Fann has been called in by the police for questioning tomorrow over a post on the group’s Facebook page back in February 29.
Fann is being investigated under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for urging citizens unhappy with the betrayal of the people’s mandate via the so-called “Sheraton Move” to attend a protest called “Turun Ke Jalan: Demokrasi Mati” at the Dataran Merdeka that night.
“Fann will present himself at the IPD Dang Wangi to be questioned on the July 7, 2020 at 11am.
“He will be accompanied by a lawyer when he gives his statement to the police,” its steering committee said in a statement.
Section 9 of the Act states that an organiser shall notify the police of an assembly ten days before, failing which may be liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000.
Bersih 2.0 also reminded the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today that the right to peaceful assembly as well the right to free speech, expression and association is enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
The “Sheraton Move” refers to a dinner hosted by Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya which inadvertently paved the way for Perikatan Nasional to take over Putrajaya from Pakatan Harapan.
“It should also be noted that our call for people to join peaceful protests was well before the movement control order (MCO) was implemented.
“We regret that under the new PN government of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the era of political intimidation and silencing of dissent that was so common under Barisan Nasional (BN) seems to have returned in full force,” it said.
The committee also pointed out that several other activists and political leaders have been similarly hauled up by the police in recent weeks, including founding director of Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, Cynthia Gabriel, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, and Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
Other cases include activist Siti Kasim for a Facebook post and journalist Tashny Sukumaran for reporting the crackdown on undocumented migrants during the movement-control order.
Former radio DJ Patrick Teoh was also charged under the Communication and Multimedia Act for allegedly insulting the Johor Crown Prince in a Facebook post.
“Legal action was also taken against news portal Malaysiakini for allegedly offensive comments posted by its subscribers against the judiciary.
“And book publisher GerakBudaya was raided by the police over a book cover with an image that resembles the national coat of arms,” the committee said.
The committee said that Bersih 2.0 views such restrictions on fundamental liberties as symptomatic of an insecure government who has not established its own legitimacy after the political coup that took place four months ago.
The committee also calls all Malaysians to stand in solidarity with all those who are being intimidated and defend the fundamental liberties that are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.