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Thread: BERSIH 2.0: Harassing Bersih leaders at the immigration exit

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    BERSIH 2.0: Harassing Bersih leaders at the immigration exit


    Bersih leaders decry harassment at airports




    • Nigel Aw


    • 7:56AM Oct 4, 2012


    At least three Bersih committee members have been temporarily stopped while attempting to board international flights since last month.

    Although they were eventually allowed to travel, the trio - Andrew Khoo, Maria Chin Abdullah and Yeo Yang Poh - said this was an attempt to harass them in the wake of the government move to tighten the screws on NGOs.

    Lawyer Khoo (left), who was on his way to Bangkok for a conference yesterday, was stopped for 15 minutes at the KL International Airport (KLIA).

    "I had to go and see an immigration officer, who made a phone call for clearance. They said there was a police file on my record," he said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

    He speculated that the authorities may have decided on the move recently as he was able to travel to the Philippines on Sept 9 without problems.

    "This is an unnecessary encumbrance on my freedom to travel," he lamented.

    Khoo added he had no existing police cases against him except for a lawsuit initiated by the government against Bersih for damages caused during its April 28 rally.

    Similarly, women's activist Maria (right) was on Sept 18 stopped by immigration officers when attempting to leave for Nepal via the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

    "They stopped me for about 20 minutes. Eventually they allowed me to go through immigration but they informed me there was a police case against me," she said when contacted.

    A case of paranoia


    Maria said while there had been several police investigations against her on Bersih's activities, she had never been charged with any offence.

    "This is serious harassment against us, we have not committed a crime," she said.

    Also facing the same problem was Yeo (right), a former Bar Council chairperson who lives in Johor Baru and frequently travels to Singapore.

    "I had two experiences in September when going to Singapore. They required me to go to the immigration office for clearance," he said.

    Describing this as a case of paranoia, Yeo said the government would do better to allow immigration officers to do their job rather than to look out for Bersih leaders.

    "They should stop doing this. This is something that makes them look bad - for attempting to harass citizens," he said.

    "This is a pointless exercise and it is really laughable."

    Meanwhile, in a press conference held today, Maria also revealed another Bersih committee member, Wong Chin Huat, also faces a similar harassment, making the total count to four people.

    “When Chin Huat put his passport into the machine, it was rejected and he had to go through an immigration officer.”

    When contacted, Wong confirmed that the incident had happened on Sept 17 when he was preparing to take a flight to Hong Kong via LCCT.

    Commenting on the incidents, Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreennevesan condemned this as an “act of harassment and intimidation of the highest order”.

    “Clearly they are targeting (Bersih committee) members and this is a form of harassment.”

    Wondering whether she is also on the list, the former Bar Council president added that she will go overseas next week and she will know then.

    “I suspect I am (in the list).”

    py

  2. #2
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    Lauded and dined Ambiga woos Ipoh crowd



    • Terence Netto


    • 8:26AM Oct 4, 2012


    Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, fresh from a laudation received from prestigious international weekly The Economist, told an overflow crowd of diners in Ipoh last night that the government's current offensive against NGOs has escalated to include niggling harassment of the polls reform advocacy group she helps steer.

    "In the last couple of weeks, three of our steering committee members going abroad have had their passage through immigration stalled without good reason," disclosed the former Bar Council president to some 1,000 people who paid to attend a dinner at which she was the principal guest and speaker.

    The event was organised by a community development NGO centred in Ipoh in which single parents are active.

    Ambiga told her brimming audience she viewed this treatment of Bersih's leaders as part of a general pattern of escalating harassment by the authorities that in recent weeks has seen NGOs like Suaram come under carping scrutiny.

    The senior lawyer's rising stature as an iconic presence among politically unaffiliated groups in the country campaigning for reform to outdated processes gained an unexpected fillip when The Economist, in its latest edition, included her among a slew of Asian campaigners who it said had emerged from left field to launch reform-seeking crusades.

    Judging from the racial and gender diversity of the crowd that paid to hear her speak in a posh hotel in the Perak capital last night, the reputable international newsweekly was not off the mark in speculating about the reason for her appeal in its regular Banyan column that highlights roiling public concerns in Asia.

    It said that ordinary citizens in some Asian nations appear to be responding favourably to the exertions of crusaders who have emerged from outside established political streams to fight obsolete and ossified structures.

    Bersih's concert on Oct 12


    At the dinner last night, Ambiga deftly sought to leverage on this popular appeal by urging the crowd to continue supporting Bersih even if the opposition Pakatan Rakyat comes to power for, she said, a clean electoral roll is the foundation of democratic representation.

    She said that nearly six months after an impressive turnout for the polls reform group's demonstration in Kuala Lumpur last April, the Election Commission has yet to concede ground on the eight reforms to the electoral process the group has been campaigning for over the past five years.

    "However, in fairness it must be said that the EC has agreed to the use of indelible ink," she conceded.

    "But the ink will be applied before a voter marks the ballot and not after," said Ambiga, who observed that this was rather an odd turn to what is considered regular procedure.

    She did not detail her reasons for thinking the sequence strange but left the impression that even when the EC has conceded on a reform, the door is left open for possible chicanery.

    Ambiga urged the crowd to turn up for the concert that Bersih will organise at the Kelana Jaya stadium in Selangor on Oct 12 to ratchet up the public pressure for polls reform.

    "We have to have polls reform before the 13th general election and not after," she said to rousing applause from the audience.

    Ambiga thanked the public for the support and encouragement they had shown her during a period earlier this year when she was the target of crass and lewd behaviour by groups resentful of Bersih's success at mounting a demonstration of impressive size in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.
    py

  3. #3
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    Now immigration stops Ambiga at airport




    • Nigel Aw


    • 2:31PM Oct 10, 2012


    Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has become the latest person to be held up by immigration officers while leaving the country.

    "I was stopped at the immigration tonight for 10 minutes or so. I could not go through the auto-gate. (This is) clear harassment of Bersih steering committee members.

    "Immigration officers could not give me an explanation why I was stopped," Ambiga said in a text message to Malaysiakini last night.

    She was briefly stopped at the KL International Airport last night, as she was leaving for Australia.

    Ambiga, the fifth Bersih steering committee member to be stopped by immigration officers, while travelling overseas, said Bersih would consider taking the matter up with the Home Ministry.

    "Yes, we will certainly discuss this. They should disclose the list of people they have put on the watch list," she said.

    Last Thursday, Bersih steering committee member Andrew Khoo was also brieflystopped by immigration officers while on his way to Bangkok.

    Bersih steering committee members Maria Chin Abdullah, Yeo Yang Poh (left) and Wong Chin Huat too have had similar experiences in September.

    In a text message to Malaysiakini yesterday, Khoo said he was stopped again when returning from Bangkok to Malaysia.

    "Stopped again on my way back from Bangkok on Saturday and stopped again on my way out to Australia last night," he said.

    While their freedom of movement has not been suspended, Bersih leaders are crying harassment for being singled out by the immigration authorities for no apparent reason.
    py

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