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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.
Police begin to enforce ban on open-air rallies
Riot squads disrupt opposition meetings
BARADAN KUPPUSAMY in Kuala Lumpur
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
Police have now started enforcing the indefinite ban on open-air
political gatherings imposed nationwide two weeks ago, citing security
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
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
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.