By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: Sarawak’s ‘Walk for Democracy and Reforms’ on Aug 13 at the Museum Garden here will go on, said adamant organisers Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS).
Undaunted by the numerous police reports lodged against him by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) leaders and police intimidation, MoCS leader Francis Siah said: “Aug 13 will happen, we will walk. Its only a question of the scale of the march.
“Tomorrow we meet with the Sarawak police chief … we will know then the status of our application. But we have contingency plans.”
The Aug 13 rally is closely linked to Siah’s call for Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to step down following widespread allegations, here and abroad, of corruption under his administration.
MoCS, which had backed former deputy Education Minister Salleh Jaffaruddin’s candidacy in Balingian, a Taib-held seat, during the April 16 Sarawak election, have been relentless in their call for Taib to step down.
Following Taib’s win, albiet with a much reduced margin of 2,215 votes compared to 5,726 in the 2006 polls, MoCS had repeated its call for Taib to step down.
Taib’s win was widely attributed to money-politics.
The April 16 Sarawak elections saw the opposition make a historical sweep of 15 seats – DAP 12 and PKR 3.
The growing support for Siah’s call has unnerved people here especially after Sarawakians saw for themselves the massive public response to Bersih 2.0′s call for electoral reforms and the subsequent police action against them in Kuala Lumpur.
Some 100 Sarawakians had flown into Kuala Lumpur and taken part in the Bersih 2.0 rally.
No official correspondence
Siah also said that MoCs had put in their application for a police permit in mid July for the rally.
“They called us in for an interview on July 27 and laid down two conditions.
“They told us to call off the walk. They wanted us to rally at one spot. They also asked us to re-apply for a police permit through a registered organisation.
“We have decided not to cancel the walk. We have also since then re-applied for a permit under a registered body.
“MoCS Organisation is now registered as a body under the Registrar of Companies. We are now a legal entity,” he told FMT today.
Siah said since they re-applied for a permit, there had been no official correspondence from the police until yesterday, when five policemen turned up at the Kuching International Airport at 6.15pm and summoned him to appear before CID officers at the police headquarters here tomorrow at 10am.
Police sources claimed they had been looking for Siah, who had been away in Kuala Lumpur for the last two months .
“When I arrived at 6.15 pm this (Tuesday) evening, five police officers were waiting for me and summoned me to appear before CID officers at the Police headquarters on Wednesday.
“There is no need for them to do that as I have already made an appointment to see the Sarawak police chief on Wednesday to discuss with him the issuing of police permit for the ‘Walk for Democracy and Reforms’.
“I have to meet the commissioner and listen to what he has to say,” Siah said.
“There is no reason why the police should refuse to issue the police permit. After all we will be stationing ourselves at the Cenotaph,” he said.
Siah said, apart from some speeches, there would also be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph, a memorial to honour those who had fought and died for Sarawak.
He urged the people who love democracy to come forward to support a ‘worthy’ cause.
Siah reminded that the ‘Walk for Democracy and Reforms’ on Aug 13 in Kuching is solely a civil society’s initiative and no political parties are involved. – FMT