PAA charge against me is selective prosecution, says Sabah rally organiser

    Bersih Sabah vice-chair Jannie Lasimbang says the state police had never given any indication that rally goers were forbidden to assemble. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 21, 2015.

    Charged with failing to give 10 days’ prior notice for the Bersih 4 rally, Bersih Sabah vice-chair Jannie Lasimbang has hit out at the powers that be for selective prosecution.

    She told The Malaysian Insider that she was shocked to be charged today, as she had submitted the notice 11 days before the August 29 rally.

    It was reported prior to the rally that Lasimbang had sent the letter to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) as well as given notice to the police.

    The police however had initially refused the letter of notification as it did not include a sketch plan of the proposed gathering area.

    They also wanted the rally organiser to obtain a letter of approval from DBKK.

    Lasimbang and her team proceeded to get the sketch done and handed it to the police, who then accepted the notice.

    Describing the charge against her as selective prosecution, Lasimbang, a former human rights commissioner with Suhakam, said the OCPD had called them for a meeting twice and never given any indication that they could not assemble.

    “I am shocked that I have been charged.

    “I submitted the notice under Section 9(5) on August 19 which is 11 days prior to the rally.

    “The OCPD called us for a meeting twice and did not give any indication that we cannot assemble.

    “This is selective prosecution. Others with racist intentions are not charged,” she said.

    Lasimbang pleaded not guilty to the charge at the Kota Kinabalu magistrate’s court and was allowed RM2,000 bail.

    Hearing dates have been fixed for November 22 and 23.

    The charge against Lasimbang under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) has also been criticised by electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, who said it was yet another attack on the right to protest.

    The rally in Sabah was to have run for 24 hours at the Tanjung Lipat beachfront, beginning at 2pm on August 29. However, it was shortened by four hours after police roadblocks halted traffic access to their camp in Tanjung Lipat.

    The rally ended after more than 1,000 people in the democracy walk were barred from entering the Kota Kinabalu city centre by police, who had blocked a whole section of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, a main coastal road leading from their camp to downtown.

    The 34-hour Bersih 4 rally held from August 29 to 30 in Kuala Lumpur demanded institutional reforms and called for the resignation of Datuk Seri Najib Razak over alleged financial scandals.