Bersih And Red Shirts Slapped With RM34K Bill For Destroying Trees During Rallies In 2016

However, DBKL's legal notice does not state how the two groups should split the bill.

Cover image via SAYS

Bersih and the Red Shirts will have to pay a total sum of RM34,150 for damages to plants around the city due to the rallies they had separately on 19 November 2016

Bersih 5 was held on Saturday, 19 November 2016.

Image via SAYS

Malaysiakini reported that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) sent a legal notice dated 27 December 2016, to both Bersih and Persatuan Gabungan NGO Gerakan Merah Malaysia or popularly known as the 'Red Shirts', asking them settle the bill in 14 days, by 10 January 2017.

The notice claims that the amount is to make up for the damages to 3,300 plants around the KL city area that allegedly happened during the rallies last November.

Signed by DBKL's legal and prosecution department director Rohayah Karim, the notice also warns that the city hall will take legal action against the two groups if they do not pay up in two weeks from when the notice was served.

Interestingly enough, the legal notice does not state how the bill should be divided between the two groups.

The Red Shirts were mostly gathered near the Sogo Shopping Mall as the police road blocks prevented them from moving forward.

Image via SAYS

Responding to the hefty bill, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said that they will not be paying the bill as she claims that no public property were destroyed by Bersih during their rally last year

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah

Image via AFP

"I don't think we should pay. I don't think any public property had been destroyed," said Maria when speaking to Malaysiakini.

"The government should not do this, suing or claiming damages from civil society as this is our right of expression," she added, as reported on 12 January.

She also referred to the Court of Appeal's ruling in 2016 that stated there is no provision under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PASS) that allows the government to sue for damages. "There is no need for us to pay, a court has also ruled in our favour that the the government cannot claim damages which occurred in a rally," she explained.

Maria also mentioned that she in unaware that there are that many trees around Jalan Ampang.

According the legal notice, a total of 1,000 Loropetalum Chinense Var Rubrum that costs RM19.20 each, located along the road divider of Jalan Ampang and 2,300 Duranta Erecta Gold plants (RM6.50 each) around the same area were destroyed during the rally.

However, the Red Shirts mouthpiece and leader, Jamal Md Yunos is more than ready to pay the bill if his followers were indeed at Jalan Ampang, where the damaged trees are said to be located at

Datuk Jamal Md Yunos

Image via The Malay Mail Online

"We have the images and video footage. If it was proven we were present (at Jalan Ampang), we will pay the bill fully without any excuse," said Jamal, who is also the Sungai Besar Umno division chief, to Malaysiakini.

If he finds that his followers weren't at the scene mentioned by DBKL, he said that he'll appeal against the DBKL claims. Jamal also took the opportunity to provide a suggestion to Bersih, saying that they could easily settle the bill by running a "RM1 donation campaign".

Adding to that, Jamal thinks that Bersih should foot the damages bill as the Red Shirts only rallied as a reaction to Bersih 5 and that DBKL should have charged Bersih more.

"(The sum sought) is too little. They should have asked for hundreds of thousands," opined Jamal.

Meanwhile, Mayor Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz has said that he will ask his lawyers to handle the matter and let the court decide, referring to Bersih's refusal to pay the bill

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz

Image via The Rakyat Post

Bersih 5 was held on 19 November 2016 and went on peacefully for most parts, without any riots:

Maria Chin was not at the Bersih 5 rally as she was arrested under SOSMA a day before it:

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