SHAH ALAM, Feb 2, 2016:
There was no evidence to suggest that yellow clothing bearing the word Bersih 4 and other rally paraphernalia is likely prejudicial to the national security or public order, the High Court heard today.
Lawyer Edmund Bon, who is acting for three plaintiffs — Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin, treasurer Masjaliza Hamzah and national representative Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, in a judicial review application challenging the ban on the yellow Bersih 4 t-shirts submitted two points before judge Datuk Yazid Mustafa during the hearing this morning.
“The Home Ministry made the order citing the rally failed to obtain approval from the police but the rally in fact, complied with the Peaceful Assembly Act,” he said, in stating the first ground that there was no evidence to suggest the yellow t-shirts bearing Bersih 4 would be prejudicial to national security.
Bon further tendered that the order was made prior to the two days rally.
“The ministry issued the order before the rally on Aug 27 (2015) but it (rally) happened on Aug 29.
“The rally remained peaceful before, during and after the event. So, is it reasonable to say the t-shirts are prejudicial to public order?
“There were no police reports complaining about it being prejudicial,” he said.
In replying, senior federal counsel (SFC) Suzana Atan said the question in this matter is whether the minister has acted beyond his powers.
“The order was made under Section 7 (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984, which is within his functional duties.
“The term likely to be prejudicial does not refer to the actual public disturbance but on potential public order,” she said.
At this juncture, Yazid questioned the SFC as to how printing and wearing the yellow t-shirts is likely to be prejudicial to public order.
Suzana contended that the minister issued the order based on his discretion during the material time.
After hearing submissions from both parties, Yazid fixed Feb 19 to deliver his decision.
The judicial review application filed by Maria Chin and two others named Home Affairs Ministry and the government as the respondents in challenging the latter’s ban on Bersih 4 paraphernalia last year.
The order was issued on Aug 27 last year under Section 7(1) of the PPPA that stipulates any printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution or possession of the publication described in the schedule which is likely to be prejudicial to public order, likely to be prejudicial to security, likely to be contrary to any law and likely to be prejudicial to national interest are absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia.
The schedule listed among others, yellow coloured clothing bearing Bersih 4 as well as printed materials and pamphlets pertaining to the rally.
On Aug 29 last year, thousands attended the two-day Bersih 4 rally demanding Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down as the country’s leader.