Monday 27 August 2012

KL police silent on Merdeka Day rallies

 After an hour-long meeting with the organisers, Dang Wangi police did not express either approval of, or objection to, two rallies being planned in Kuala Lumpur by civil society groups on the eve of Merdeka Day.     
NONE"There was no yes or no from the police... So we appeal to the police to allow the countdown," said Maria Chin Abdullah, an organiser of the 'Janji Demokrasi' (Promise of Democracy) rally.

"Police only briefed us on the Peaceful Assembly Act (2012) and said they are concerned about the safety of the participants," said Stanley Yong, co-chairperson of The Preservation of Jalan Sultan and Jalan Bukit Bintang Committee (PJSBBC).

However, both described their joint meeting with police today as "friendly with no disagreement or argument".

PJSBBC's rally will be held from 8.30pm to 9.30pm in Jalan Sultan to safeguard the historic buildings on that street from being demolished for the MRT project.

'Gabungan Janji', comprising 49 NGOs, will hold its 'Janji Demokrasi' countdown at the iconic Dataran Merdeka from 10pm to midnight, to pressure the government into fulfilling its promises, including for clean and fair elections.

Dang Wangi police officers, including OCPD Mohamad Zulkarnain, met the organisers at the district headquarters this afternoon.

NONEMaria said she told the police that no speeches will be made during the ‘Janji Demokrasi’ countdown, apart from a poem presented by national laureate A Samad Said (left), who is also the organiser of 'Janji Demokrasi'.

"I also told them than we have informed our participants that there will be no placards, banners or slogans during the countdown. We will just go there wearing yellow, and disperse after midnight," she said.

Asked whether Kuala Lumpur City Hall has imposed any requirement, such as an application to hold the rally, Maria said it has not contacted them so far.

Crowd control

Yong further disclosed that the police wanted to know the purpose and details of the rallies.

azlan"Then they briefed us, saying that the Peaceful Assembly Act can be used to address illegal assemblies. They said that, from the police perspective, (the organiser of) every rally needs to make application.

"However, when we asked them if we need to do so, since we are just celebrating Merdeka, they could not answer us.”

Police informed them that personnel will be sent to both venues to monitor and control the crowd, according to Maria.

"They offered (personnel to control crowd, which) we welcome," she said.

Both Yong and Maria promised that the rallies will be peaceful and that the participants will be disciplined.

There will be no official countdown at Dataran Merdeka that night, Maria added.

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