The Government of Malaysia has filed a lawsuit against the Bersih 2.0 steering committee for damages amounting to RM122,000 that they alleged were incurred during the recent rally (News coverage available here and here).

This follows the charges made against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy, Azmin Ali, for allegedly inciting participants at the recent Bersih 3.0 rally to breach the Dataran Merdeka blockade (the 7.30 report has the story).

Both these cases are likely to be the first cases to be tried under one of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s new signature laws to transform Malaysia into a world class democracy, “The Peaceful Assembly Act”. Dr. Amanda Whiting had provided a cogent analysis of this Act.

Are there parallels with what the Malaysian government is doing with Singapore’s method of stifling dissent through the legal system (and heavy fines) or Thailand’s lese majeste laws , or any other Southeast Asian nations strategy that uses the judiciary to silence legitimate dissent?

What do New Mandala readers think about a government that sues its own citizens who are demonstrating for free and fair elections?