KUALA LUMPUR — Street demonstrations do not always lead to mere chaos, Bersih said today following royal criticism of its past rallies and protests in general.

The electoral reform group defended the right to peaceful public assembly, saying street rallies are a legitimate way for Malaysians to express themselves and have proved to be useful in not only improving government processes and institutions but has been constructive in the formation of Malaysia.

“The Bersih rallies over the years had been referred to by the Sultan of Johor in a statement yesterday as ‘black marks’ and ‘riots’ in our nation’s history as, in His Majesty’s views, these protests only led to ‘negative’ impacts such as chaos and destruction.

“Bersih respectfully disagrees, and we would like to point out that protests are legitimate means of political expression and are formative to our country’s history,” the Bersih steering committee said in a statement. MALAY MAIL