Monday 27 August 2012

Police disallow Janji Democracy

It will violate Peaceful Assembly Act, says top Dang Wangi cop.
PETALING JAYA: Police today declared as illegal the Bersih-linked Promise of Democracy (Janji Democracy) gathering to be held at Dataran Merdeka on the eve of Merdeka Day.
Dang Wangi district police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad has told the organisers to cancel it and warned the public against participating in it.
Speaking to FMT, Zainuddin said the statements made this afternoon by Maria Chin Abdullah, a representative of the Coalition of Promises (Gabungan Janji), were inaccurate.
Chin’s statements came after the group had a dialogue with the police chief.
“I did not give them the green light actually, if that was the impression given [in her press conference],” he said. “In fact, the first words that came out of my mouth were that they had already violated the law.”
He said that under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the organisers should have submitted an official notification to the police of their gathering 10 days before the event.
“Since that was not done, it is illegal under the law, and I did not allow it. But if they said they would go ahead anyway, which I had advised against, then I may have to take action based on public safety and order,” he said.
Asked if anyone would be charged with the violation, he replied: “We shall see. If they
go anyway, we will open up investigations.”
The law provides for a maximum fine of RM10,000.
Asked if police would make arrests, Zainuddin said it was possible under the law.
“We will monitor it,” he said. “We have the right to detain or take action against those who break the rules.”
He added that under Section 83 and 84 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with unlawful assemblies, the police were empowered to order the dispersal of such assemblies and use reasonable force if such orders were ignored.
He said that so far no police station in the Dang Wangi district had received any complaint against the gathering.
Asked if he accepted the group’s argument that the gathering was simply to celebrate Merdeka, Zainuddin said the group was obviously promoting Bersih, which “has done all sorts of things”.
Referring to plans by the Preservation of Jalan Sultan Committee (PJSC), Zainuddin said the group was celebrating their community and heritage and he did not see any problems arising from them having a gathering.
However, he said this group too would be breaching Section 9(1).
Earlier today, Maria and PJSC co-chair Stanley Yong met police for about an hour to discuss the separate gatherings. The Dataran Merdeka gathering is scheduled for 10pm and the PJSC march at 8.30pm on Jalan Sultan.
The two groups appealed to the police to allow the two events to proceed without restrictions and to provide security. “We will, on our part, try to minimise inconvenience and allow this to be a celebration,” said Chin.
She told reporters the meeting was “jovial” but added that the police were not specific about giving their approval for the events.
PJSC’s “Merdeka March for Jalan Sultan” will begin at Gospel Hall in Jalan Hang Jebat and proceed through Jalan Sultan to the old Klang bus station.
The group, which said that it would refrain from talking too much about the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) project, hopes that the gathering will garner support for the preservation of heritage buildings.
Participants in the Dataran Merdeka gathering will be dressed in yellow. Officials of the Coalition of Promises have said that their group was a separate entity from Bersih 2.0 although many of its members were key leaders of the popular electoral watchdog group.

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