By Hafiz Yatim | Malaysiakini
The Court of Appeal today allowed the appeal by Bersih 2.0 and declared that the ban on the yellow T-shirt and pamphlet with the words Bersih on it was unreasonable.
Justice Mohd Zawawi Mohd Salleh, who led the panel, allowed the appeal in terms of law.
“The decision is unanimous. The order given by the (home) minister was unreasonable based on the affidavit by him as it imposes an unreasonable condition.
“We allow the appeal and the position taken by the minister (in his decision) is quashed,” said Justice Zawawi.
He said that no order was made as to costs.
The other judges were Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli and Justice Asmabi Mohamad.
On Feb 19, the Shah Alam High Court has upheld the government’s decision to ban Bersih 4 T-shirts and related printed materials.
Bersih had applied to challenge the government ban announced in the run-up to the massive Bersih 4 rally last Aug 29 and 30.
Justice Mohd Zawawi said that a written judgment would be prepared on such an important issue later by Justice Abdul Rahman.
Bersih 2.0, through its chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, and two other steering committee members Masjaliza Hamzah and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, named the home minister and the government as respondents in the judicial review application following the ban of the words on T-shirts and pamphlet on Aug 27.
Maria said that today was the first anniversary of Bersih 4 and lauded the decision of the court as it recognised that people could assemble peacefully to protest.
She pointed out that the judge had said many times that the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 gave the people the right to assemble.
She said this was an important decision as several people were arrested because they were in possession or were wearing the yellow T-shirts.
“With today’s decision, the order by the minister is declared null and void and hence they should not be worried over the arrests.
“I hoped that Malaysians who were arrested for wearing the T-shirts would have their case dropped,” she said.
“Several Malaysians were also arrested in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Brunei for wearing the T-shirt. This is unjustifiable. I hope no further action is taken.”
Maria said that it had taken a long time for the court to reach today’s decision.
She added that today’s decision was a recognition of people’s power in Malaysia and “we had come a long way since 2007 and are still fighting for reforms”.
She hoped that today’s decision would provide a cue for the Malaysian government, especially Prime Minister Najib (Abdul Razak) and the authorities, to recognise Bersih’s efforts to seek reforms in the country, including holding clean and free elections and also combating corruption.
Fellow steering committee member and lawyer, New Sin Yew, who appeared with lead counsel Edmund Bon in the case, said the decision today meant that police could not use the order by the home minister to arrest anyone possessing the yellow Bersih T-shirt.
“Many Malaysians own Bersih 4 T-shirts and this decision has wide implications on those who have it. It is good that with today’s decision people can still have them,” he said.
Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan appeared for the respondent.