(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The police has granted permit for the holding of a forum, "The Return of The Legal Eagles" to uphold the cause of justice to be held at Federal Hotel (Banquet Hall) on Monday, 22nd June 1998 from 8.30 p.m - 11.30 p.m.
"The Return of The Legal Eagles" is a sequel to the "Gathering of Legal Eagles" in sympathy, support and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng and which was organised as a forum for lawyers and Malaysians concerned about public policy issues which have been brought to the fore by the Lim Guan Eng case, such as:
The DAP MP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai had complied with the conventional practice in Kuala Lumpur of writing to the OCPD of Dang Wangi, Zainal Abidin bin Ali, informing of "The Gathering of Legal Eagles", which was the same procedure followed with regard to the five Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng round-table conferences/forums which had been held in Kuala Lumpur in April and May.
However, without proper notice that the Kuala Lumpur Police would depart from its conventional practice and would now want a specific application for a police permit, the Police refused to allow "The Gathering of Legal Eagles" to be held at the last minute, creating a very ugly scene which was a black-lettered day for the Police.
As I had told Zainal during the ruckus at the Federal Hotel caused by the high-handed mishandling of the police disruption of the gathering by the OCPD, on 5th June, 1998 Tan Kok Wai on behalf of the DAP submitted an application for a police permit for the holding of a forum "The Return of the Legal Eagles" at the Federal Hotel (Banquet Hall) on Monday.
In a letter dated 17th June 1998, the OCPD of Dang Wangi, Zainal Abidin bin Ali rejected the application without giving any reasons.
On the morning of the 18th June 1998, I led a DAP delegation including DAP National Deputy Chairman, Karpal Singh, National Vice Chairmen Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Ahmad Nor and Dr. Oon Hong Geok, Deputy Secretary-General Abdul Muluk Daud, National Organising Secretary Tan Kok Wai, Director of Political Education, Teng Chang Khim and International Secretary, Teresa Kok Suh Sim to meet the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, on the new police crackdown against public meetings and gatherings where Malaysians are told that they can eat but cannot talk and to express our concern that the country seems to be lurching towards a police state.
There was a most frank and robust exchange of views for 75 minutes between the DAP delegation and Tan Sri Rahim Noor, who was accompanied by top police officers, including CID Director, Datuk Yaacob Mohd. Amin, Internal Public Order and Security Director, Datuk Ghazali Yaacob, Special Branch Director Datuk Said Awang and head of Legal and Prosecution SAC I Musa Hassan.
Tan Sri Rahim Noor assured the DAP delegation that there had been no "change of heart" on the part of the police leadership on civil liberties and that there was no new policy to crackdown on the existing rights of Malaysians to freedom of speech and assembly, and that permits for forums and dinners which had been held down the decades would continue to be handled by the respective OCPDs, with the right to appeal within 48 hours to the Chief Police Officer with regard to any refusal.
The IGP and other top police officers expressed surprise at the unreasonable conditions imposed on DAP dinners, as for instance, the DAP Lukut Dinner where the Police allowed the dinner to be held on the condition of no speeches or even karaokes.
On 18th June, 1998, Tan Kok Wai submitted an appeal to the Chief Police Officer of Federal Territory in connection with the rejection by the Dang Wangi OCPD to issue a permit for "The Return of the Legal Eagles", stating among other things: "Untuk makluman Y. Bhg. Datok bahawa pada pagi ini satu delegasi pemimpim DAP telah bertemu Y.Bhg. Tan Sri Rahim Noor, Ketua Polis Negara di Bukit Aman dan beliau telah memberi jaminan kepada kami bahawa pihak polis tidak menghalang mesyuarat atau forum awam bagi membincangkan hal-hal kepentingan orang ramai anjuran kami."
On 19th June 1998, the Federal Territory CPO, Datuk Kamaruddin Md. Ali, issued a police permit for the holding of the forum with the following conditions:
"Setelah meneliti perkara itu, saya menerima rayuan dan meluluskan permohonan Yb bagi menganjurkan Forum Hal Ehwal Politik pada 22/6/1998 mulai jam 8.30 malam hingga 11.30 malam bertakluk kepada syarat-syarat seperti berikut:
a) Ceramah yang diberi tidak menyentuh kepada perkara-perkara
i. Mempunyai unsur hasutan seperti menimbulkan benci, menghina atau membangkitkan perasaan tidak kepuasan hati terhadap mana-mana Raja atau Kerajaan.
ii.Menimbulkan kebencian, menghina atau membangkitkan perasaan tidak puashati terhadap pentadbiran keadilan di Malaysia.
Contoh - Mempertikaikan keputusan yang telah dibuat oleh Mahkamah terhadap sesuatu kes.
- Tohmahan terhadap pihak penguatkuasaan dan pendakwaan kerana mengambil tindakan secara tidak adil di dalam mengendalikan sesuatu kes dan lain-lain.
iii. Membangkitkan perasaan sakit hati dan bermusuhan di antara berlainan bangsa atau di antara kelas penduduk Malaysia.
Contoh - Membangkitkan isu keagamaan yang boleh menimbulkan perasaan sakit hati atau bermusuhan.
- Membangkitkan isu perkauman dan lain-lain."
I commend the Police for issuing a police permit for the holding of the "The Return of the Legal Eagles" to uphold the cause of justice on Monday, and also for the issue of a police permit for a DAP Raub Anniversary Dinner in Raub, Pahang last night, after the application for dinner was rejected by the Raub OCPD and also by the Pahang Chief Police Officer after appeal.
Tan Sri Rahim Noor has kept his word that there is no "change of heart" on the part of the Police leadership with regard to civil liberties and the rights of Malaysians public meetings and political dinners, and I hope that the open and tolerant attitude now shown by the Police will mark a new police relationship with the public, where the public could regard the police as friends of the odinary citizens and sympathetic to their aspirations for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance while maintaining all all times a non-partisan stand, being fair and even-handed to all political parties - whether ruling or opposition.
"The Return of the Legal Eagles" promises to be a historic forum which is aimed for lawyers and Malaysians concerned about law and freedom to come together to discuss the great issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance facing the country today.
I invite all Malaysians, therefore, to "come one, come all" to "The Return of the Legal Eagles" at the Federal Hotel on Monday night to make it an unforgettable event in Malaysia’s development of a vibrant civil society, to show the government and the world that Malaysians can peacefully and productively discuss important issues of the nation without causing any breach of the peace.
The panellistss at the "The Return of Legal Eagles" are:
We informed the IGP that a public forum in Kuala Lumpur on the water shortage crisis would be organised. This public forum on the water crisis would be organised by the Council for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance, which would be held at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 2nd July 1998. Application for a police permit for the Water Crisis Forum had been submitted to the Kuala Lumpur Police.
The Council for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance was constituted in Parliament on June 1 by the signatories of the Pantai Declaration, comprising PAS MP for Kubang Krian, Mohamad Sabu, Parti Rakyat Secretary-General Dr. Sanusi Osman, Protem Chairman of Socialist Party Malaysia, Dr. Mohamad Nasir, DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, National Vice Chairman, Ahmad Nor, Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, Deputy Secretaries-General, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng.