By Ang Ngan Toh
Former Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) strongman Salleh Jafaruddin (right) has called on leaders from the BN and Opposition to act responsibly and decisively with regards to the Bersih, Umno Youth and Perkasa rallies planned for Saturday.
“Why can’t they jointly meet before the rallies and come to a mutually acceptable political decision instead of passing the buck to the police and army, which is irresponsible and a sign of cowardice,” said the former PBB vice-president.
“The opposition’s insistent support for Bersih’s call for demonstration is equally irresponsible,” said Salleh, now actively involved in a Sarawak citizen group, Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS).
He said the government supporters in Penang were however allowed to stage an illegal assembly yesterday. “Therefore to deny the request of Bersih, is practising double standards which may infuriate the parties concerned.”
Salleh said the authorities should allow the procession to proceed as planned, but those involved must guarantee that it will not turn into anarchy as what happened at the 1969 May 13 racial riots.
He said that the army and the police, together with the organisers of the meet, should jointly provide enough personnel to safeguard security and to ensure that a smooth, peaceful and orderly procession takes place, treating it as no more than a nomination day election fiesta.
In addition, along the proposed routes for the procession, Kuala Lumpur City Hall should organise a Sunday market so that supporters and the bystanders could enjoy the day.
“This was a common feature in Rome in the early Seventies, especially at the Rome Via Veneto nearby the Central Railway station.
“The meeting was organised by the Socialist and Communist parties every Friday afternoon. No unwanted incidents happened,” Salleh said.
“The police and army guarding the routes must be disciplined and the participating members must also behave as civilised citizens.”
He said the authorities should allow different groups to simultaneously demonstrate, but their destinations and routes of procession should be in different areas to prevent clashes.
“Separating the routes could be used to assess the strength of political support for BN and Pakatan. Alternatively the government should accept the opposition leader’s promise not to proceed with the procession should the prime minister comply with their demands.
“These are some of the practical ways to help solve the current problems,” Salleh concluded.