Bersih Granted Leave To Challenge Ban

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) can formally challenge the Home Ministry's banning of the electoral reform movement.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) yesterday granted the NGO coalition leave (permission) to challenge the order by the Home Ministry and the government.

Justice Rohana Yusof said she found Bersih 2.0's application, headed by lawyer and chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, and 14 other steering committee members to be 'not frivolous'.

In ruling to dismiss the government's preliminary objection, she fixed Nov 22 to hear the merits of the application.

However, the judge allowed the objection by the respondents over the seizure of materials from the Bersih 2.0 secretariat at its Petaling Jaya office.

The decision was made in chambers. In addition to the government, the Home Minister and the inspector general of police were named as respondents.

Ambiga, who recently received France's highest civilian award, said this was a very important decision in allowing Bersih 2.0 to challenge the executive order.

"I am happy the court allowed for leave, as this is a low threshold. We believe we are entitled to challenge the order.

"This is unless the government decides to revoke the ban," she joked.

The respondents were represented by the Attorney-General's Chambers' trial and appeal division head Kamaluddin Md Said, who said he would seek instructions on whether to file an appeal.

"I have to brief the attorney-general first as he is my boss and we have 14 days to appeal," he said.

"Otherwise, we will wait for the hearing date for the application to be heard on its merits."

Bersih's applications

Ambiga and the steering committee members had submitted the application on July 8, a day before the mammoth July 9 rally for electoral reform, and after the government outlawed the movement.

The coalition sought a writ of certiarori (order to quash) the ban dated July 1 or alternatively, a declaration that the ban be declared null and void.

The movement also wanted a writ of mandamus against the government in relation to the seizure of all property belonging to Bersih 2.0, including newspapers, pamphlets and T-shirts.

However, this application was dismissed after Justice Rohana allowed the preliminary objection by the respondents.

Bersih 2.0 is pressing for electoral reforms to be implemented before the 13th general election is called. It plans to relaunch its eight demands on Friday

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