Don't Wear Your Bersih 4 T-Shirt To Bed, You Could Be Hauled In For Questioning

The High Court had earlier today upheld the Home Ministry's ban on Bersih 4 yellow T-shirts and pamphlets, which was issued ahead of last year's rally.

Cover image via Today Online

The High Court ruled today that the Home Ministry's ban on Bersih 4 T-shirts and other printed materials is within the ministry's jurisdiction, hence dismissing the judicial review application filed by Bersih 2.0 against the ban

Judge Datuk Haji Mohd Yazid Haji Mustafa said the minister had the discretion to make such decisions on the basis of preserving the peace in a multi-racial country.

"The national interest needs to be jealously guarded. Indeed, the prime consideration to safeguard the public order, security and peaceful, are at the hands of the executive,” the judge said.

Yazid also said in his decision that he took into consideration the fact that the rally was declared illegal, a notion that was not challenged by the applicant.

“Based on the above reasons, I find that the minister's decision in making the order does not suffer from any illegality, irrationality, or procedural impropriety. The minister had taken the relevant considerations in making the said order,” he said in his judgement today.

Electoral watchdog group Bersih 2.0 had filed a challenge after the Home Ministry issued an order banning all yellow T-shirts and printed materials on Bersih 4 a few days before the scheduled rally on 29 and 30 August

Image via Malaysiakini

The government had gazetted an order issued by the Home Ministry under the Printing and Presses and Publications Act 1984 on 28 August, banning any item of clothing in Bersih 2.0's signature yellow and/or with the name "Bersih 4" as well as other printed materials and pamphlets pertaining to the rally.

The nationwide ban was against the “printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession” of the yellow Bersih 4 T-shirts and the related printing materials, with the government citing their likely harm to public order, security, national interest and a likely breach of laws.

Lawyer New Sin Yew, who represented the polls reform group, said that the High Court's decision will affect thousands of people nationwide and overseas, as the T-shirts and pamphlets have been distributed far and wide

“So children wearing it on the streets, whoever's wearing it to sleep, I'm sorry you may want to reconsider what you're doing. If you're in possession of any of these items, you are at risk," he said, adding that anyone in possession of Bersih 4 paraphernalia is criminally liable under Section 8 of the Printing and Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

He added that even prominent figures like Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Batu MP Chua Tian Chang have already had their statements taken by the police, something that can now happen to many more.

“In the best interest of justice, obviously we'll appeal this and we'll continue to fight for what we think is right and what we think it is a perfectly legitimate form of expressing yourself under the Federal Constitution,” he added.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said that they will definitely be filing an appeal, maintaining that the T-shirt and pamphlets are not meant to disrupt public order but to push for clean elections and good governance

“It is important to recognise our right of expression. If you look at the T-shirt what does it say? It doesn't say that were going to cause a riot or violence. The five demands that we have printed on the T-shirt is about a better Malaysia,” she said.

Despite many roadblocks, the "illegal" Bersih 4 went on with much fanfare and, unlike its previous rallies, no riots:

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