All decent and law-abiding Malaysians are shocked by the statement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who asked the preposterous question why those who do not abide by the law are requesting for police protection, asserting that “Those who want to ask for protection should obey the law first”.
Is the IGP’s response to former Bersih chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan who had said that there are existing legal provisions that can be applied to prevent the Bersih rally and the Red Shirts counter-rally to occur simultaneously a signal, a blank cheque or even an invitation to the Red Shirts that they could do their worst as the police will not uphold the law and will ignore Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act, allowing the Red Shirts to go on a rampage tomorrow?
Using Khalid’s logic, what should be the Inspector-General of Police’s role in a country which is regarded world-wide as a ”global kleptocracy”?
Is it to tell the Prime Minister and the government that they cannot expect the police to protect them and uphold the law until and unless they purge and cleanse Malaysia of the infamy and ignominy of such an epithet, as the Police and IGP do not want to be known worldwide as Police and IGP of a “global kleptocracy”?
Yesterday, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Nur Jazlan advised the Red Shirts leader, Sungai Besar UMNO chief Jamal Md Yunos to stop taunting the police, especially Jamal’s boast that he would reward any of his supporters who are arrested tomorrow?
Would Khalid have kept his conspicuous silence if such a public boast had emanated from Bersih 5 organisers or NGOs?
Undoubtedly, Khalid would have tweeted no end if any of the Bersih 5 organisers or NGOs had taunted the police in this fashion?
DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s revelation yesterday about the letter of Malacca Umno liaison committee (Badan Perhubungan Umno Negeri Melaka) to its division leaders on a Red Shirts mobilisation meeting, confirmed subsequently by the UMNO Secretary-General, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, has caught UMNO red-handed in the act – although Adnan tried to make amends by going through the motion of asking for the letter’s retraction.
Is Khalid afraid of Jamal because the finger-prints and thumb-prints are everywhere that UMNO is behind the Red Shirts, so that only Nur Jazlan and not Khalid could caution Jamal to stop taunting the police?
Khalid should know of the doctrine of separation of powers and that as IGP, he does not have the last word on what is the law of the land, in particular whether Bersih 5 is lawful and constitutional or not.
Khalid may have to take into account the Prime Minister and the Cabinet’s opposition to the peaceful and non-violent Bersih 5 rally, as the Barisan Nasional would have been thrown out of Putrajaya if the democratic system had been fair, just and democratic, but as IGP, he should be mindful of the right to peaceful assembly which is guaranteed in Article 10 of the Constitution.
He should take serious consideration of the call yesterday by the Human Rights Commission Chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail to the police to ensure that all Malaysians are able to articulate their positions and opinions responsibly, which is the hallmark of political maturity and of a country guided by the rule of law.
He should also take note of Razali’s earlier statement that counter-demonstrations cannot claim protection under the right to peaceful assembly if these are to “intimidate” others from assembling.
Suhakam’s stand is clear and unequivocal that as public assemblies are by nature held in public spaces, the authorities are obliged to facilitate this.
Razali said: “As such, public assemblies should be regarded as a rightful use of public use. Suhakam firmly believes that there is a positive obligation on the part of the authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies and this obligation also extends to local authorities.”
The world is watching as to how the Malaysian authorities are handling a legitimate expression of the Constitutional and democratic rights of Malaysians in the Bersih 5 rally.
Let November 19 not be a date of infamy and ignominy for Malaysia and Malaysians but a turning point for democracy in Malaysia to save the nation from the fate of a failed and kleptocratic state.