Polls watchdog Bersih wants attempts by certain quarters to distract them from the fight for democratic reforms to cease.
The movement vowed that it will not be distracted.
"Bersih rejects the attempts by certain quarters to distract from the true essence of the Bersih 4 rally, in which 500,000 people took to the streets over two days to demand democratic reforms," Bersih said in a statement today.
The group said it was "deeply disappointed" with how the incident of a small group of protestors stepping on a picture of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was being played up by certain quarters.
"Bersih again conveys our regret over the incident and recognises that such actions were insulting and caused hurt to parts of Malaysian society, but stresses that to step on pictures of political leaders is not a crime.
"The racial slurs hurled against Bersih 4 participants and organisers are without basis and are an attempt to move the discourse away from corruption and the need for accountable governance to a racial spat, which is beneath all Malaysians."
Stomping incident regrettable
Bersih reiterated that while it was regrettable that the picture stomping took place, the vast majority of Malaysians who came out for Bersih 4 were "disciplined, good-natured and patriotic citizens".
"Their demands for reforms should be respected and the fact that we had a peaceful assembly should be celebrated by all Malaysians," it said.
Photographs were spread online after the Bersih rally, showing participants stomping on a superimposed image of Najib hugging Hadi.
The incident led to multiple reports lodged by PAS members and Bersih denouncing the incident.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi ( photo ) confirmed that as of 8am yesterday, 267 police reports had been lodged against the alleged four people responsible behind the incident.
Meanwhile, Bersih also stressed that it was committed to pressuring MPs to implement the following institutional and legal changes:
- Clean elections: To fight against all electoral manipulations and for the reform of the Election Commission (EC).
- Clean government: Stop the concentration of power in the hands of the executive, by giving more powers and independence to Parliament, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Attorney-General’s office. The Prime Minister should not hold the post of finance minister, ministers and senior government officials should publicly declare their assets and freedom of information laws should be enacted.
- Protect the right to dissent: Repeal or amend draconian laws, such as the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
- Strengthening parliamentary democracy, by ensuring clean elections, clean government and the right to dissent.
- Saving the economy through strengthening the integrity and independence of public institutions.