Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed concern over an imminent physical clash between ‘red shirt’ and ‘yellow shirt’ protesters during the Bersih 5 peaceful rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
He said: “If one side wants to protest and the side that wants to protect the government is compelled to come out … but I don’t want any physical clash.”
The Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar will be guilty of grave dereliction of duty if they fail to uphold the law to ensure peace and order and instead, allow the Red Shirts to go on a provocative rampage resulting in clashes and ugly incidents on Saturday.
The Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police could not be ignorant of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which was enacted to deal with exactly the type of situation which the Red Shirts have created – a counter-demonstration.
The Red Shirts are fully entitled to hold a counter-demonstration in support of Najib’s undemocratic and kleptocratic rule, but they are not entitled to threaten or provoke breaches of the peace and acts of violence.
Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 on “Counter Assembly” stipulates:
“18. If the Officer in Charge of a Police District receives a notification of a counter assembly and it is evident that the organization of the counter assembly will cause conflict between the participants of the assemblies, the Officer in Charge of the Police District shall give an alternative for the counter assembly to be organized at another time, date or place.”
If the Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police ensure that the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, especially with regard to a “counter assembly” is adhered to, together with the repeated pledges and commitment by the Bersih 5 organisers to hold a peaceful and incident-free Bersih 5 rally, there is no reason whatsoever for the Prime Minister to express concerns of any “imminent physical clashes” between the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts.
Clearly, without the express and tacit support by the UMNO leadership, the Red Shirts would not have given the immunity and impunity by the authorities for weeks to flout the law, peace and order of the country with their crude threats and provocative actions, which would have resulted in police crackdowns and actions if they had been committed by Bersih 5 or other NGO activists.
The independence, impartiality and professionalism of the Police and the various government authorities will be at stake on Saturday.
There will be no Red Shirts-Yellow Shirts clashes if the police uphold the law.
There will only be clashes and ugly incidents if the Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police fail in performing their duties to uphold the law and maintain peace and order.