Malaysian armed forces will take action if Bersih rally leads to state of emergency

Protesters marching through the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the Bersih rally in this April 28, 2012 file photo.
Protesters marching through the streets of Kuala Lumpur during the Bersih rally in this April 28, 2012 file photo.PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Armed Forces (ATM) will intervene in the planned Bersih 4.0 rally only if the government declares a state of emergency, said its chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd .

Speaking to reporters at the Defence Ministry on Thursday, Zulkifeli said the ATM has thus far not been involved in preventing the rally from continuing because the situation has not called for it yet.

"ATM will only intervene in the rally if the government declares a state of emergency.

"If the situation is categorised as a threat to public order, we will take over the role of the police in containing the situation," he explained.

Zulkifeli clarified that even though ATM personnel have not been deployed to monitor the planned rally on Aug 29 and Aug 30, they have been conducting annual training sessions for the eventuality that a peaceful gathering may get out of hand.

"It doesn't mean we haven't been carrying out training with the police to maintain public order.

"We need to ensure that we are always prepared, skilled and efficient in our duties should the government declare a state of emergency," he said.

 

Zulkifeli noted that it was important for ATM to take preventive measures as he is concerned that an incident similar to the Aug 17 bombing of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok might happen in the country.

"We worry if rallies like these turn into states of emergency due to certain reasons. What happened in the Thailand bombing- there are people who take advantage of the situation..This is what we worry about.

"There are many factors that could turn a rally, however peaceful, chaotic," said Zulkifeli.