Better not take to the streets, new Suhakam chief tells Bersih

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Newly-appointed Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Razali Ismail said there are better ways to seek accountability than to take to the streets.

As such, he believes electoral watchdog Bersih should look for more "sophisticated" ways of fighting for rights, he said in an interview with The Star.

“No one can prevent them from asking for accountability. But if you want to make a point, why do you go to the streets? You damage a lot of property and all that. We are not that desperate in Malaysia like in Tunisia or Tahrir Square (Egypt during the Arab Spring uprising),” he reportedly said.

“They sat there for three days and didn’t wash. Why?” he asked.

He was referring to the Bersih 4 rally on Aug 29 to Aug 31, where scores of protestors slept on the streets to demand among others, good governance, clean and fair elections, and the right to dissent.

He added Bersih should also promise they would leave iconic sites like Dataran Merdeka in "pristine" condition if they choose to hold demonstrations there.

“Promise us that they (Bersih) will clean the place properly and give it back in pristine condition," he was quoted as saying.

The former diplomat added that while he is a democrat, he is “not a take-over-the-town-or-the-padang" type of democrat.

Razali took over from fellow ex-diplomat Hasmy Agam who handed over the reigns after serving the commission for six years, last month.

Under Hasmy, Suhakam said the government must allow the Bersih 4 demonstration as part of freedom of assembly according to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, and Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Hasmy also said the government cannot stop peaceful demonstrations, has an obligation to protect peaceful demonstrators, and must facilitate demonstrations.

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