(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Bukit Aman public relations officer Supt Ghazali Mohd Amin said yesterday that police cancelled three gatherings recently after investigations showed that they could jeopardise public security.
The three gatherings were the "Gathering of Legal Eagles" in support, sympathy and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng at the Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on May 31, the Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng forum at Pantai Kundor, Malacca on June 2 and the FOMCA forum on the water crisis in Kuala Lumpur on June 3.
I challenge the police to produce proof as to how public security could be jeopardised if these three gatherings had been held. Like the disruption of the Petaling Jaya DAP dinner for sympathy, support and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng last night, it was the police which created a breach of the peace when such gatherings would have been peaceful and orderly.
Ghazali said police had never restricted the freedom of speech of any group but they should use the correct channel in line with established laws and regulations.
DAP had been organising political dinners for over 30 years and we had always complied with the established laws and regulations. It is the police which had departed from such established laws and regulations in its crackdown against civil liberties and democratic freedoms.
Ghazali also said that "Airing dissatisfaction or discussion of any issue need not necessarily be only at public gatherings for there are many other avenues such as television forums and the media".
Television forums and the media are not satisfactory or acceptable alternative avenues as press freedom in Malaysia is very limited. Worse, the Malaysian mass media can be very biased and unfair when it comes to the Opposition parties and NGOs. A good example is the mass media treatment of the DAP's troubles, giving a very one-sided and tendentious coverage, where the statement of a branch is given more important treatment than the explanations of the National Chairman.
Utusan Malaysia, which very seldom give space to DAP, today has very fulsome coverage about allegations of nepotism in DAP, when it has no word about the grave problem of KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism - in Malaysia which is now the focus of national and international concern.
It is clear from the mass media coverage of the DAP troubles in the past few days that the Barisan Nasional has a two-fold mass media agenda, namely;
It is a matter of grave concern that there is a greater intolerance of public participation in the decision-making process. The Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Abu Hassan, for instance, has called for action to be taken against FOMCA because of its articulate stand on the water crisis.
Abu Hassan may be criticised and even pilloried in a public forum on the water crisis, but that is none of the business of the police, and it is not the duty or responsibility of the police to protect the political security of Abu Hassan or any Barisan Nasional leader.