Laman Webantu   KM2A1: 5138 File Size: 4.8 Kb *

SCMP: Police begin to enforce ban on open-air rallies
By Baradan Kuppusamy

2/8/2001 10:30 pm Thu

[Kami sengaja menyiarkan berita seperti ini untuk membuka mata beberapa pihak betapa Mahathir sudah semakin tidak berhati perut dan sudah tidak lagi menghormati demokrasi. Pihak polis berkhidmat menjaga BN dan UMNO - bukannya menjaga rakyat negara ini. Tidak ada sebarang kes ceramah pembangkang memang menggugat keselamatan negara - mengapa mereka disekat dari bersuara. - Editor]

The South China Morning Post, HK
2nd August 2001

Police begin to enforce ban on open-air rallies

Riot squads disrupt opposition meetings


Hundreds of riot police backed by water cannon deployed across the state of Selangor yesterday to enforce a ban on political gatherings by the country's biggest opposition party, police and opposition leaders said.

Police have now started enforcing the indefinite ban on open-air political gatherings imposed nationwide two weeks ago, citing security concerns.

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

In a show of defiance, the Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) organised 31 gatherings on Tuesday night across Selangor, next to Kuala Lumpur.

The PAS had seen several of its state leaders arrested on Sunday and nearly all of its 40 ceramahs (political gatherings in enclosed places) across the country disrupted by police.

Among those who had their gatherings disrupted in Selangor state and later cancelled were PAS president Fadzil Noor and National Justice Party president Wan Azizah Ismail, the wife of jailed former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

PAS deputy president and Chief Minister of the PAS-ruled state of Terengganu, Abdul Hadi Awang was stopped 20 minutes into his speech at a gathering in Malacca state on Sunday.

Police surrounded the meetings and repeatedly warned him to stop what they describe as an illegal assembly. He complied.

Two middle-level PAS leaders in Johore state and five supporters were arrested for obstructing police at a rally there, but were later released on bail.

The last few permits for political gatherings were issued for the July 22 Likas by-election in the East Malaysian state of Sabah that the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad won with a large majority.

PAS MP for Kuala Muda constituency, Mohamad Sabu, who was among those earlier arrested and later released, said the ban on political meetings was unjustified. "We are popular . . . Umno is not," he said.

PAS leaders also charge that police mount roadblocks outside meeting places and take down details of PAS supporters.

"The actions are unfair and undemocratic," Mr Mohamad said.

Democratic Action Party chairman Lim Kit Siang also said that national security could not be used as an excuse to impose a blanket ban.

"Such actions are against the growth of a democratic culture," he said, urging the Malaysian Human Rights Commission to intervene. "The freedom of assembly and speech should be guaranteed."

The commission is in favour of abolishing the permit system for political assembly held within premises and is due to release a report on its arguments.

PAS had anticipated the tougher actions and Mr Fadzil had written to the Inspector-General of Police, Norian Mai, in mid-July seeking a meeting to discuss the permit system, but without success. A PAS emergency motion in Parliament last month to discuss the matter was also rejected.

Political analysts expect the stand-off over the right to assembly between the Government and the opposition parties to worsen.

With the mainstream media closed to their message, the political parties had turned their nightly rallies into the mainstay platform to attack Dr Mahathir and the ruling coalition.

Invitations are less by posters than by messages on the Internet. The ceramahs are videotaped, put on to VCDs and sold cheap at other ceramahs, radiating to a wider audience.

PAS leaders also fear police and state government action to ban the sale of VCDs at the rallies.

Analysts say the tough stand on rallies is in keeping with recent action to use the dreaded Internal Security Act against political opponents and university students.

While two student leaders were released, six opposition activists remain detained without trial and their appeal for freedom will be heard by the Federal Court, the highest in the land, on Monday.