Thursday, December 7

Zahid has no power to stop peaceful assembly — Baru


KUCHING: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi does not have the power to restrict the rights of the people to a peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, said state PKR chairman Baru Bian.

According to him, an assembly can only be restricted reasonably and not prohibited, as defined in Article 10(2)(b) of the Federal Constitution.

“The deputy prime minister should know that peaceful demonstrations are permitted under the Peaceful Assemblies Act, introduced in 2012, which allows gatherings to proceed without the need for a permit, although rally organisers must notify the police of the assembly,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Zahid had called for plans by some parties to hold rallies at Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur to be stopped, saying it was not the way to solve problems in the country.

Speaking at the ‘Leaders Meet People’ session at Kampung Terbat Leban on Saturday, he stressed that the government did not want any more demonstrations which would only lead to the country having a bad image.

Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said the problem this country had was the bias shown by the authorities in enforcing the law.

“Apparently there are two sets of laws, one for the elite ‘Umnoputras’ and their cronies, and one for the opposition and ordinary members of the public.

“The Bersih 4 rally was a peaceful gathering calling for electoral reform and yet the organisers are being investigated and charged for the ‘Kita Lawan’ rallies held months earlier in an apparent retaliation for Bersih 4. The Red Shirt demonstration at Petaling Street by extremists who used racist placards and chants turned violent and yet no action has been taken against the organisers,” he exclaimed.

The fundamental problem in Malaysia, he noted, was Umno as it was a party supporting racist policies, with its leaders playing the racial card to hold on to the eroding support for them.

“It is no use coming to the Borneo states to tell us about equality for all races when your actions in Peninsular Malaysia speak louder than your words here. It is the federal government under Umno that is responsible for the woes we face here, including uneven development, poor facilities, sub-standard education, and the like.

“The people of Sarawak are waking up to this fact and will show their displeasure at the next state election.”