He said that although the Agong had granted an audience to Bersih 2.0's leaders yesterday, the government's position has not changed.
Hishammuddin, exercising his powers as home minister, had declared Bersih 2.0 illegal on July 1.
However, Hishammuddin shot down Bersih 2.0 chief S Ambiga's claim that the coalition is not required to apply for a permit, stressing that Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ismail Omar has clearly set this as a pre-condition.
'The IGP was very clear (in his statement yesterday). We are all governed by the laws of the land, (and) the IGP's statement yesterday also stated Section 27 (of the Police Act), which states you have to apply for a permit.”
Asked several times whether or not the government can guarantee that the planned indoor rally on Saturday will be allowed to take place, Hishammuddin was again evasive, only saying this depends on the organisers' application for a permit.
“Let them apply. Then the process is for the police to consider. The quicker they apply, the quicker they can process as far as the police are concerned ... the permission to have (the) gathering will depends on their application,” he said.
Hishammuddin said the rally will get the green light if the organisers apply for a permit and meet all the conditions set, although he was sparse on the details.
“We will have to wait for their application first. That (conditions) will be discussed when they do make the application, between them and the police.”
Crackdown will continue
Hishammuddin said that, since Bersih 2.0 is illegal, there is no reason for the authorities to end the crackdown on supporters, as they are still considered to be linked with an illegal organisation.
“... as long as they are still illegal, actions related to something illegal are still under the purview of the nation's laws. We are consistent in our stand on the law.
“But based on the circumstances now, they (Bersih 2.0) want to assemble at a stadium so there is room for discussion. The engagement and ability for them to voice their concerns is not just about wearing T-shirts, it's bigger than that.
“The idea is talking about fair and free [sic] general elections, and that's what the government wants anyway. So if you want to have it at a stadium, why should a T-shirt or a name be an issue here? Let's not be distracted from the core matter we are supposed to be fighting for, which is fair and free [sic] elections.”
Stadium offer a 'positive development'
Hishammuddin also brushed aside criticism from international groups that condemned the government's crackdown on Bersih 2.0 and its supporters, countering that the stadium offer is a “positive development”.
He claimed that the only reason the police resorted to the crackdown was because “there was no other avenue” to tackle Bersih 2.0's initial plan to hold a mass street rally.
“But now we have an alternative, isn't that a positive movement? I would like to monitor and see what is their (international NGOs) reaction (to the stadium offer).
“... if they still see it as a crackdown when we (have) given space to gather in a stadium, then they are prejudiced, biased and not being fair to the government.”
Hishammuddin added that local and international NGOs have no right to demand for the release of Bersih 2.0 supporters who have been detained.
“It's not for them to say, because it is for the law to decide when a man is to be released or not.”
Seals: Bukankah ini Menghina Tuanku? Any one can clarify?