(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Government should withdraw the charges against 127 people, including 17 women, who were produced in the magistrate’s court under the Police Act yesterday with disobeying police orders to disperse from an unlawful assembly for three reasons:
Firstly, the assembly in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday was peaceful with those who had gathered exercising a high degree of order and discipline. A gathering of the same nature the previous Saturday ended peacefully, although there was a strong police presence, and there was no reason why the gathering last Saturday could not have ended completely incident-free if greater restraint had been exercised by the police concerned.
Secondly, the Police had not taken any action against the assembly of some 150 people organised by UMNO Youth two days ago outside the Philippines Embassy in Kuala Lumpur condemning Filipino President Estrada for his stand on the detention of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, although the UMNO Youth gathering was also an unlawful assembly under the Police Act.
Thirdly, the events of the past two months have highlighted the need for more democratic space in Malaysia for the people to peacefully assemble and express their views and aspirations - in circumstances posing no threat to the law-and-order situation in the country.
DAP calls on the government to withdraw all the charges against the 127 people produced in the magistrates’ court yesterday for unlawful assembly in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday and to convene a meeting of political parties and NGOs to to draw up new rules and guidelines to give greater democratic space for the people to peacefully assemble and express their views and aspirations in keeping with the government’s professed commitment to the development of a democratic society in Malaysia.