The Sarawak police have denied Movement of Change, Sarawak a permit for their Aug 13 “Walk For Democracy and Reform” programme and threatened to arrest anyone seen in the vicinity.
But a deeply disappointed but undaunted MoCS chief Francis Siah has said that “the event will proceed” despite the threats.
“The event will proceed as planned at the Museum garden at 2 pm this Saturday on a scale that will not break the law.
“Today I have contacted our friends and supporters from outside Kuching to cancel their trip to the state capital for the event.
“But some are insisting on coming. So far 180 people from Sri Aman, 60 from Miri, 12 from Sibu, six from Kota Kinabalu and two representatives of Bersih 2.0 in Kuala Lumpur have confirmed their participation on the Aug 13 red rally.
““We are unsure how many will attend from Kuching but many people have contacted us to say they wish to participate,” he said, adding that if the police had agreed to issue them the permit then the rally would easily see some 7,000 to 10,000 people participating.
The ‘Walk for Democracy and Reforms’ was inspired by the support for Bersih 2.0′s call for electoral reforms.
Some 100 Sarawakians had flown into Kuala Lumpur on July 9 to take part in the rally which saw thousands turn up in support of calls for fair and free elections and experience for themselves police brutality.
The outpouring of support for Bersih 2.0 has sent shivers through BN political circles here who secretly blame Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for the what they described as a’political mess’.
The MoCS rally on Aug 13 has also been closely linked to calls for Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to step down over allegations of corruption and abuse.
MoCS has been urging Taib to step down for sometime now but post the April 16 state elections Siah had issued Taib with an ultimate “resign by Aug 13 or face consequences”.
The call, which until July 9, was seen as just another vague attempt, has however now become a ‘security issue’.
Addressing MoCS’s call for Taib to step down, Siah said: “Even though MoCS fails to unseat him as Chief Minister on Aug 13, we are however thankful that we have succeeded to create an impact of our mission over the past 12 months.
“The message to our fellow Sarawakians is clear – they must no longer live in a climate of fear of powerful politicians.
“They must be prepared and be ready to stand up and be counted. We must be ready to change and reform and that starts with getting rid of the fear of political tyrants and despots in our midst.”
He also further condemned the police for intimidating and threatening supporters of the rally.
“I was tipped off by someone who has connection with the police that there would be trouble.
“As such I have advised the people not to come.
“I have also advised Salleh Jafaruddin, our adviser, not to return to Kuching today because we anticipate ‘grave consequences’ will happen to him at the Kuching airport. ”
According to Siah, Salleh was disgusted at the way political masters in Sarawak made use of state apparatus to cow civil societies which were fighting against the current corrupt regime.
Siah said that MoCS has declared many times that it was a responsbilbe organisation and that it would conduct its activities within the confines of the law, adding that it would ‘walk the talk’.
“There is no need to frighten the people with arrest, after all we promise them the rally will be peaceful.
“I told the police not to squander public money by using water cannons, tear gas and riot police personnel to suppress the rally participants.
“We will walk to and lay a wreath at the Cenotaph to honour our fallen heroes who fought for Sarawak’s liberty and freedom, conduct prayers and unveil the 10-point declaration of MoCS for political reforms in the state.
“The 10 point declaration is a very important document as it is also the blue print for MoCS’ agenda for change in the state,” he said.