By Lisa J. Ariffin
KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dismissed today warnings that Bersih 2.0 may launch another rally, telling the election watchdog that street demonstrations are “useless”.
“To me, it is useless to do so (hold another rally),” Muhyiddin told a press conference today after attending the Federal Territory Umno Election Assembly here.
“Demonstrations won’t solve problems, they are just to show how much support you have,” he added, saying that if Barisan Nasional (BN) was to hold a similar demonstration, the pact could easily rally one million supporters.
Muhyiddin (picture) was speaking today in response to Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who yesterday warned Putrajaya of a potential “Bersih 3.0” rally in light of lagging polls reforms and reports of a sudden surge of voters in some parliamentary constituencies.
Muhyiddin pointed out that although Ambiga had many times said Bersih was not politically motivated, “we all know it is political”.
“The main problem here is with the electoral roll and the government has taken many steps to rectify this issue,” he said, citing the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for electoral reforms.
Muhyiddin added that the BN government was an open government, and that there was nothing to hide.
“Whoever is unhappy can voice their discontent to the government, not take it out on the streets,” he said.
“We know the people don’t like demonstrations.”
Following Ambiga’s announcement, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have declared their support for a “Bersih 3.0” rally in the capital city if the Najib administration fail to implement meaningful electoral reforms before polls are held.
The opposition leaders stressed that Putrajaya could avoid a tumultuous rally like last July 9 if their demands are met and recommendations by the PSC for electoral reforms are implemented by the Election Commission (EC).
Thousands of Malaysians took to the streets on July 9 to join Bersih 2.0’s rally for free and fair elections but the protest turned ugly at midday when riot police launched tear gas canisters and water cannons to disperse participants.
The widespread clampdown, which saw more than 1,000 people arrested even before the rally, earned the Najib administration a whiplashing in the international media.
Under pressure, the government had then promised a slew of reform measures, which included the formation of the PSC and the enactment of the highly-criticised Peaceful Assembly Act last year.