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Saturday November 10, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: The people should reject street demonstrations and effect any change through polls, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The Prime Minister reiterated that today’s planned demonstration by the non-governmental organisation Bersih was illegal as it did not have a police permit.
Calling the organisers stubborn, he said: “I am disappointed. Are they trying to challenge the Government and leadership? But what they are actually challenging and casting aside is the law.
“People want the country to always be stable and peaceful and that is what they (Bersih) are challenging, not me.
“Saya pantang dicabar (I don’t take to being challenged),” he said yesterday in his winding-up speech.
The Umno president said street demonstration was not the Malaysian way.
“Illegal demonstrations disrupt the country’s economy as the police will act on the demonstrators and this will result in chaos. This will cause people to be angry and hate the police,” he said.
“But the culprits are actually not the police because the police are only enforcing the law.”
Abdullah believed that the country’s development momentum should be allowed to continue and warned that this would be disrupted if the Government wasted time tackling problems like riots and instability.
Bersih is a group of 60 non-governmental organisations supported by five Opposition parties and the rally is to call for free and fair elections.
Abdullah said it was not as if the Opposition had not won seats in previous elections, citing the loss of three states – Kelantan, Terengganu and Sabah – in the past.
“If we controlled everything, we would have won everything,” he said, adding that the Election Commission had already implemented some of the opposition parties’ proposals such as use of transparent ballot boxes and indelible ink.
“We are ready to face the election with an open heart. Let the people make their evaluation at the ballot boxes,” he said, adding that people preferred change through a peaceful process.
When asked at a press conference later what would happen if the group gathered anyway, he said he would leave it to the police.
When asked what if the Opposition used footage of police breaking up the demonstration against the ruling party during elections, Abdullah said: “The law is the law.”
On whether denying demonstrations contradicted his philosophy of wanting to listen to the truth, Abdullah said he knew what was being said about him, even in blogs.
“Bloggers say all sorts of things and I have never stopped them. They have never had it so good,” he said.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan warned that those taking part in the illegal gathering today would face arrest.
“To avoid any untoward incident, we urge the public not to attend or gather at Dataran Merdeka. If the organisers wish to hand over their memorandum to the palace, we will allow it and assist them in doing so provided there is no gathering or banners,” he said.
Musa said the police would allow not more than 20 representatives to hand over the memorandum to the palace.
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