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WPost: Malaysian Police Deployed Across State
By Jasbant Singh

2/8/2001 9:40 am Thu

[Polis telah dikerah keseluruh negara untuk memastikan PAS mematuhi larangan tidak boleh mengadakan ceramah dengan alasan kununnnya 'menggugat keselamatan negara'.

Apa yang menarik di sini ialah presiden PAS, Fadzil Noor menyebut satu tindakkan mahkamah sedang difikirkan untuk mencabar tindakkan kerajaan itu. -Editor] language=printer

Malaysian Police Deployed Across State

By Jasbant Singh

Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2001; 9:37 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Hundreds of riot police backed by water cannons deployed across a key Malaysian state to enforce a ban on political gatherings by the biggest opposition party, police said Wednesday.

Defying the ban, the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic party organized 31 gatherings Tuesday night across Selangor state, next to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Police mounted roadblocks at routes leading to the venues and turned back hundreds of people, PAS youth leader Mahfuz Omar said Wednesday. There were no reports of violence or arrests.

Police have been enforcing an indefinite ban on open-air political gatherings which was imposed by the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad two weeks ago. The government says the rallies threaten national security, while the opposition contends the ban and recent arrests of activists are an attempt to stifle dissent against Mahathir's 20-year rule.

In a few cases, opposition activists meeting in violation of the ban have been detained for a day or two and released.

Helped by public anger over the jailing of popular former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, the fundamentalist PAS emerged from general elections in 1999 as the main threat to Mahathir's rule over this Southeast Asian country of 23 million people.

Mahfuz was scheduled to address one gathering Tuesday night.

"The police forced our party supporters to go home," Mahfuz said. "Barbed wires were put up and water cannon trucks stood by ... all to intimidate our people."

Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned the opposition to call off any future gatherings.

"Since the government and the police have made this decision, it is our responsibility to strictly enforce the rules," he told reporters.

Fadzil Noor, the president of the Islamic opposition party, said that "the police are being used as political tools," adding that a lawsuit was being considered to force the ban to be revoked.

In June, the government ordered six opposition activists to be detained without trial at a prison camp in northern Malaysia, accusing them of plotting violent protests to topple Mahathir.