No man is above the law
Concerned over the ongoing police crackdown against activists and politicians, Gerakan Youth has questioned how the inspector-general of police (IGP) define sedition and rallies.
It is also a case of misplaced priorities as there are many pressing issues that the police needed to deal with urgently, its deputy chief Andy Yong said.
Does the IGP really know the law before an arrest (is made)? Or he prefers to define ‘seditious tendency’ in the Act according to his wishes?” quizzed Yong, who is a lawyer.
Issues such as security of the country and illegal activities are pressing matters that the police should focus on, rather than curb public assembly or honing in on sedition.
In the arrests connected to protests, he said the police deemed these protests illegal because the 10 days’ notice was not given.
“Don’t they know there are several cases decided by the court that Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) which requires the organiser to give 10 days’ notice to the police is ultra vires (the constitution),” he asked further.
Yong referred to the Court of Appeal landmark case of Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad vs Public Prosecutor, which stipulates the requisite to give prior notice before an assembly is unlawful.
‘As long as it’s peaceful’
The PAA, Yong said, gives a right for every citizen to assemble, whether notice was given or not.
“To criminalise for not giving notice and penalising the organiser has no nexus to ‘public order’ or ‘interest of the security of the Federation’ unless the assembly was not peaceful.
He reminded the police that as long as the assembly is peaceful, criminalising it is not integral to the purpose of the legislation.
Yong was referring to the spate of arrests of activists and opposition leaders following a rally held in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, and also the arrests of individuals who posted comments on political or religious matters on twitter.
The lawyer added judicial precedents prove the recent arrests have no strong basis, especially when there were no reports of violence and the gatherings are peaceful.
“Until there actually is a report of violence escalating during the rally, there is no need for the police to enforce the PAA,” he said.
Yong added that Malaysia should emulate countries like Hong Kong or Britain, where the police are there to ensure public order and security, and demonstrators do not resort to violence.
“Hence, ultimately I urge the police to concentrate more on reducing crime instead of being perceived as being used as a political tool,” the Gerakan leader voiced out.
Yong’s statement today echoes the concern made by newly elected Malaysian Bar president, Steven Thiru who reminded the police that they should respect constitutional rights.
Gerakan: Does IGP define rallies, sedition as he wish? – http://m.malaysiakini.com/news/293508