KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Electoral watchdog group Bersih has dismissed Datuk M. Kayveas’ claims of paid participants during the April 28 rally here and challenged the Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leader to produce evidence or apologise for making the allegations
The Malaysian Insider ran an exclusive interview yesterday with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president, who alleged schoolchildren, “blind” anti-BN supporters and paid participants had attended the Bersih 3.0 rally for clean and fair elections. He claimed 99 per cent of the thousands who gathered did not know what they were rallying for that day.
“His statement is irresponsible, defamatory and arrogant, in particular his accusation that Bersih supporters were paid,” Bersih steering committee member Dr Wong Chin Huat told The Malaysian Insider.
“That is an example of what we fight against — ‘dirty politics’ and he (Kayveas) was probably projecting himself onto us,” Wong added when contacted yesterday.
Wong, who said the watchdog group takes great offence with Kayveas’ accusations, challenged the BN leader to produce evidence of paid participants, “or apologise”.
“Either you produce evidence that we paid the supporters, or apologise,” he said.
Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan agreed with Wong. She noted “participants of Bersih will be giving their side of the story under oath before the Suhakam inquiry”.
“If Datuk Kayveas is so convinced of the truth of what he says, he ought to also present himself before the Suhakam inquiry and give his statement under oath,” said the former Bar Council president.
Wong also said it was unnecessary to find a connection between Bersih and anti-BN sentiments.
“I don’t know why he should see such a connection. In fact, clean and fair elections should be good for BN to win more support,” he said.
“If BN leaders like to think support for clean election is an objection of BN, then it’s BN’s problem, not Bersih’s,” he added.
Wong’s colleague Liau Kok Fah mirrored his sentiments, saying: “It is insulting to the people who participated in the Bersih rally.”
“Most people attended the rally because they know the electoral roll is not fair and clean, not because they took money,” Liau said, adding that “Bersih is an NGO, we don’t have money”.
“We depend on public support to organise everything,” he explained.
Liau also refuted Kayveas’ claims that most participants were “blind anti-BN supporters”, and said: “Most people are intelligent.”
“If they don’t support BN, they have a reason for not supporting BN. It is not because they are blind.”
Kayveas had raged that many of the participants were those who have “shut their eyes to BN’s goodness” and were intent on blaming the ruling pact for their own failures in life.
He also accused the opposition for promoting such blind condemnation of BN and for allegedly instigating their supporters to break the law and to spread falsehoods through the use of social media tools.
Tens of thousands had thronged the federal capital city’s streets on April 28 for the Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair elections, the election watchdog’s third such event since 2007.
The opposition-backed protest had kicked off peacefully but turned chaotic shortly after 3pm when several protesters breached the three-tiered barricades surrounding the historic Dataran Merdeka, which had been blocked off to them via a court order obtained by the police.
A parliamentary reply later said the police fired a total of 967 tear gas canisters and grenades at the crowd, which the Information Ministry estimated at 22,270 according to pictures taken by state news agency Bernama.