Empower chief Maria Chin Abdullah (left) and Lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri speaking to reporters outside the courtroom.

Empower chief Maria Chin Abdullah (left) and Lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri speaking to reporters outside the courtroom.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — The High Court postponed today the hearing to challenge the Home Minister’s decision to declare Bersih 2.0 illegal.

The Attorney-General’s team — representing the ministry — led by Datuk Kamaludin Mohd Said told reporters that they had raised two objections.

“We want the court to strike out the application. We are challenging the affidavit,” he said, adding that it was defective.

“If we fail, we will object on the merits of the leave application,” he said.

Kamaludin said September 19 had been set by Judge Datuk Rohana Yusof in chambers for the hearing of the preliminary objection.

The Bersih 2.0 rally is to demand for free and fair elections and the loose coalition of 62 non- governmental organisations were declared illegal effective July 1.

Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan mounted a legal action on July 8, challenging the decision by the home minister, the Inspector-General of Police and the Malaysian government to outlaw the electoral reform movement.

Bersih 2.0 had said the government order issued on July 1 is illegally and irrational; it is seeking a judicial review for the order to be cancelled immediately.

Ambiga and 13 other people connected with the electoral reform movement named in the suit want the court to issue a restriction order against the authorities to stop government officers from entering and raiding their premises and to return all the Bersih 2.0 property and materials seized in the last two weeks, ranging from the yellow T-shirts, posters, placards, pictures, members’ list.

In its papers filed at the High Court on July 8, the group said Bersih 2.0 is wholly different from the entity known as Bersih launched in 2007 as the new movement launched in November 2010 is a coalition made up of only civil society organisations and does not include any political parties.

To support its case, Bersih 2.0 argued that “the order by its very terms describes Bersih as a ‘movement’ and not a grouping or a society”, and that the home minister does not have the power to declare a diverse and disparate group of organisations as unlawful as it does not also fall under the definition of a “society” under the Societies Act.

The 14 Bersih leaders said the home minister had misused his statutory powers for a hidden agenda and not to protect public order.

They accused him of acting with bad intentions and not consistent with the Societies Act or the Federal Constitution, which is the highest law in the country.

The 13 other individuals listed as plaintiffs include Bersih 2.0’s steering committee members. They are Maria Chin Abdullah, Datuk Toh Kin Woon, Zaid Kamaruddin, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Arul Prakkash Sinnappan, Haris Fathillah Mohamed Ibrahim, Andrew Khoo Chin Hock, Liau Kok Fah, Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeoh Yong Poh, and Yeo Yong Woi.

By Melissa Chi, 17 August 2011