An email received from Kohila of JERIT SECRETARIAT today:
Today the Deputy IGP Tan Sri Ismail Omar had urged to public not to participate in the JERIT’s campaign claiming that it is an unregistered organization, and we do not have permits and if the public takes part it is a criminal offence.
There are a few matters that the JERIT secretariat would like to clarify regarding the Deputy IGP’s statement:
1. JERIT is a registered organization just like SUARAM, Tenaganita and few other NGOs who are not registered under the Society Act but another act. Thus, JERIT is also registered under a different act. Furthermore, JERIT is a coalition of different coalitions such as the students coalition, factory workers coalition, plantation workers coalition and also NGOS. Coalitions like JERIT, BERSIH or Gabungan Mansuhkan ISA need not be registered as it’s a coalition of different organizations;
2. Regarding the participation of youths, we would like to emphasize again and again, parents have given consent for the youths to take part in this campaign. Many organizations also feel that the participation of the youths is good as they are doing something worthwhile for the nation during their school holidays. Furthermore, SUHAKAM and BAR Council have endorsed this campaign. JERIT feels that SUHAKAM and BAR Council have more credibility and their endorsement carries more weight compared to the police’s statement.
3. On the issue of this campaign is used by certain political parties for their interest, we would like to reiterate here that this campaign is to highlight the aspiration for the people. In the early part of this campaign, we sent letter to all political parties, asking for endorsement for this campaign. Only Pakatan Rakyat parties, and PSM endorsed this campaign. Many NGOs and MTUC also endorsed this campaign. So what is the problem if the endorsing groups participate and support the campaign.
4. The Deputy IGP also mentioned that some JERIT members have been arrested under the Printing and Publications Act. We really hope that whoever arrested will be charged in court as we have a good case to show the police is wrong whereas the police have got no case at all against us.
5. Finally, the Deputy IGP said that taking part in this campaign is a criminal offence ( The STAR) as the campaign is illegal. Well, in that case the Selangor Chief Minister launched this campaign and the Kedah Chief Minister , Penang Chief Minister and Perak Chief Minister participated by hosting the cyclist team and receiving the memorandum presented by the cyclists. So is the Deputy IGP going to charge all 4 Chief Ministers for criminal offence for supporting this campaign?
This campaign is an awareness campaign which is supported by the Rakyat. Wherever we go we are supported by the people in the local area. Furthermore, we have sent letters to all Chief Ministers that we will be submitting memorandum, and so far either the chief minister or his representative have received the memorandum from the cyclist. On the 18th of December 2008, we will be sending a memorandum to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader. We have sent a letter to them informing about our programme.
So we don’t see why the police have to get all worked up on this campaign.
The country is moving towards greater democracy where the people want change. This was clearly reflected in the March 08 elections. Not only that, even the Prime Minister is promoting that more democratic space needs to be created. In that sense, it looks like the police force is still in colonial times with oppressive and suppressive attitudes.
It is time that the police force should learn to adopt a more open and democratic approach by respecting the civil and political rights of the people. They should change their mindset and not constantly create a fear culture which will suppress the democratic rights of the rakyat.