SHAH ALAM, Feb 19 ― The High Court here today rejected electoral reform group Bersih 2.0's challenge on the Home Ministry's ban of the Bersih 4 T-shirt, saying the order was within the ministry's jurisdiction.
Judge Datuk Haji Mohd Yazid Haji Mustafa also said in his decision that he took into consideration the fact that the rally was declared illegal, a notion that was not challenged by the applicant.
“Based on the above reasons, I find that the minister's decision in making the order does not suffer from any illegality, irrationality, or procedural impropriety.
“The minister had taken the relevant considerations in making the said order,” he said in his judgement today.
Lawyer New Sin Yew, who was representing the electoral group, insisted, however, that they had argued that the rally was legal during the hearing and will bring this issue up again when they appeal the decision.
“The Bersih 4 rally is legal and we've shown evidence that it's legal and we've complied with all that needs to be complied with under the Peaceful Assembly Act.
“The judge said that we did not challenge it, we did, it's in our affidavit but this is a matter which we'll take up on appeal. It doesn't end here,” he said.
Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah also pledged not to give up, saying that this was simply another obstacle in its push for electoral reforms.
“I think it is ridiculous to ban any yellow T-shirt.
“The order itself is already unacceptable to us but I feel that this is part of the struggle, the democratic struggle, to actually fight for our right to expression which I feel the authorities don't really recognise at all,” she said.
On August 27, the government gazetted the order by the Home Ministry banning all items related to the Bersih 4 mass demonstration, including its promotional materials and any item of clothing bearing the rally’s name as well as its signature yellow.
According to the federal gazette on the Attorney-General’s Chambers website, the ban was issued under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 and officially came into effect on August 28.
The order, issued by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi within his powers under Section 7(1) of the PPPA, stipulates that: “The 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.”