Federal Court: The Government cannot sue Bersih Steering Committee for RM122,000.


The government sued Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga and the electoral watchdog’s steering committee members over the damages suffered during the April 28 rally in 2012.

It also sought a declaration that the defendants, as the organisers of the Bersih 3.0 rally, had violated Section 6 (2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, as they had the responsibility, among others, of ensuring that the gathering would not cause damage to public property.

Following this, some of the Bersih representatives filed separate counter-claims against the government.

19 Jan 2017

Government cannot sue rally organisers for property damage, rules court

PUTRAJAYA: The government today failed to convince the Federal Court that it could sue organisers of peaceful assemblies for damages to its property.

A three-man bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum dismissed the government’s leave to appeal application.

No grounds was given by the court for its refusal to grant leave.

However, under Section 98 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1965, an applicant must convince the bench that its legal question/s was/were raised for the first time and is of public importance.

The question posed was whether Section 6 (2) (g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 imposed a legal liability on the government to seek compensation for damage of its property.

Lawyer Tommy Thomas, who appeared for former Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and 14 steering committee members, said the government’s leave question was frivolous.

Commenting on the court’s decision, incumbent Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said she was glad the court had clarified the legal position of organisers.

“We cannot be held responsible if rally participants destroy or damage public property,” she said.

Maria hoped the rulings of the High Court and Court of Appeal would apply to all strata of government – starting from the local authorities.

23 August 2016

Putrajaya Court dismisses government’s appeal in a civil suit against Bersih over damages to public property during its 2012 rally

Gov’t cannot claim damages from Bersih, Court of Appeal rules

Hafiz Yatim


The Court of Appeal in a landmark decision today affirmed that the government and police have no right to institute a claim under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for damages allegedly incurred in the 2012 Bersih 3 rally.

In an unanimous decision, Justice Rohana Yusof said the PAA cannot be used to institute a claim.

Last year, High Court judge John Louis O’Hara ruled the PAA as constitutional but dismissed the claim by the government.

Justice Rohana sat with Justice Varghese George Varughese and Justice Mary Lim.

Each of the judges wrote separate judgments in the verdict, but Justice Rohana, who led the panel, read the brief decision.


1 February 2016

Malay Mail Online

Putrajaya loses bid to claim damages from Bersih over 2012 rally

zxBersih’s former steering committee and their lawyers are all smiles after the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s verdict, January 30, 2015.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — The Malaysian government today lost in its civil suit against electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, as the High Court ruled that the latter was not liable for property damage during the group’s sit-in protest on April 28, 2012.

High Court judge Datuk John Louis O’ Hara, in his decision today, said that although the Peaceful Assembly Act is constitutional the Bersih 2.0 steering committee,  is not responsible for the damages caused.

Justice O’Hara also dismissed the government’s claim for RM110,543.27 in property damages as the “acts and omissions of the cops invariably contributed and resulted in the damage.”

“I find the plaintiff’s (the government) claim not to be proved on the evidence and I dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for a declaration, special damages and interest.

“It’s clear to this court that the damages that occurred only happened after the first defendant had called off the rally,” said O’Hara, referring to Bersih 2.0’s former chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

“Moreover, it was not shown to the satisfaction of the court that the damages that occurred were actually caused by the legitimate participants of the rally or by an independent agent,” he added.

Justice O’Hara noted that the government should use Section 7(a)(v) of the Act — which states a participant shall refrain from causing damage to property — against the “actual perpetrators of the damage”.

“Vicarious liability does not affect the organiser based upon the facts and evidence in this case,” he added.

But the judge rejected Ambiga’s counter claim that Section 6(2)(g) was unconstitutional, saying that the former Bar Council president, who challenged the constitutionality of the section did not manage to show how their rights were affected.

Section 6(2)(g) states that organisers are responsible to ensure that “the assembly will not endanger health or cause damage to property or the environment”.

O’Hara denied the defendants claims for cost except the group’s former steering committee member, Dr Wong Chin Huat, who was awarded RM21,000 in damages — partly for unlawful arrest, detention and assault during the April 2012 rally.

The judge also awarded Wong another RM30,000 in costs.

– See more at: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-loses-bid-to-claim-damages-from-bersih-over-2012-rally#sthash.6ZpJtwHe.dpuf


5:56PM Jun 24, 2014

Gov’t counsel has 110 questions for Bersih chief

A senior federal counsel prepared a total of 110 questions to quiz electoral reform NGO Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, during cross-examination today.

This meant the cross-examination could not be completed today as it went beyond the court’s operating hours.

After cross-examining Mariafor about two hours, senior federal counsel Normastura Ayub, who represents the Malaysian government in a civil suit, told the court that she had the long list of question and sought permission for a short break.

The questions posed to Maria earlier touched on several topics, including the latter’s involvement in the Bersih steering committee, the numbers of meetings held prior to the April 28, 2012 rally and PAS’ Unit Amal volunteer corps’ engagement and crowd management training.

Presiding judge John Louis O’Hara called an adjournment at 5pm after Normastura had completed her 83rd question.

Besides Maria and Arul, other steering committee members Dr Toh Kin Woon and Yeo Yang Poh were also called up to testify as defendants in the court today.



4:41PM Jun 23, 2014

‘Bersih 3.0 faced extreme provocation from police’

The Bersih 3.0 rally held in Kuala Lumpur on April 28, 2012, suffered extreme provocation from the police force, with, among other things, 909 tear gas canisters fired at the people, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur was told today.

Former Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan in her testimony today added: “Firing 909 tears gas canisters is an extreme provocation by the police. They provoked and attacked the people by the manner they fired tear gas and water cannons.”

The former Bar Council chairperson added that the rally would not have turned rowdy if the police had given their cooperation, as did the security forces in the anti-GST and Blackout 505 protests.

Ambiga (right) was the first defendant in the trial of the civil suit filed by the Malaysian government against her and 14 other steering coalition members over damages and losses caused during the Bersih 3.0 protest on April 28, 2012.

On a suggestion by the senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad that the police action was justifiable, Ambiga disagreed, saying the force had in fact posed danger to the people by firing tear gas straight into the crowd.

“The police were endangering the life of the people,” she said during her cross-examination.

“The moment the police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse the crowd, control was taken out of the hands of Bersih 2.0.”

Ambiga reiterated that crowd control and ensuring public order during the rally was a joint responsibility of the Bersih 2.0 steering committee members and the police.

To an earlier question from Azizan as to whether the Bersih 2.0 committee knew that Dataran Merdeka was a private place managed by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Ambiga said: “Yes, according to the by-law. But we don’t see it that way.”


Free Malaysia Today

Govt sues Ambiga, Bersih over damages

May 23, 2012

The former Bar Council president says the government is seeking general and special damages amounting to RM122,000 with regard to the rally.

PETALING JAYA: The government is suing Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga and the electoral watchdog’s steering committee members over the damages suffered during the April 28 rally.

Speaking to FMT, the former Bar Council president said she was served with the writ of summons at 3.25pm this afternoon.

“The government of Malaysia which is the plaintiff is suing me and nine other Bersih steering committee members in the civil court for what appears to be damages they suffered as a result of the rally.

“The government is seeking general and special damages amounting to RM122,000 and also a declaration that we have violated the Peaceful Assembly Act,” she added.



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