(Penang, Monday): The police should show its commitment to the Rukunegara and to restore Malaysia’s international image as well as to promote democracy by issuing a permit for the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium on February 26.
Yesterday, Kuala Lumpur City police chief Datuk Kamaruddin Mohamad Ali confirmed that the police has receive an application for the holding of the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium and said that it was being studied in relation to its safety aspect.
I am surprised that in the same breath, he told reporters that two earlier applications from Gerakan Keadilan Rakyat (Gerak) and UMNO Youth for a gathering at Bukit Jalil Stadium had been refused on grounds of safety.
Why should the Kuala Lumpur City police chief liken the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally being organised by the Coalition Against Toll (CAT) to these two proposed rallies, which could be said to be fully political in nature, as one was to demonstrate support for former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and to protest against the injustices of his sacking, arrest, police assault and prosecution while the other was to demonstrate support for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his handling of the Anwar case.
Is this an indication that the police are looking for some excuses to frustrate the holding of a Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium on February 26?
The Police should realise that the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally is very different from these two rallies planned by Gerak and UMNO Youth, as the February 26 rally, which is expected to be attended by 20,000 to 30,000 people from all over the country, is not a political rally to support or condemn any particular political personality, whether Mahathir or Anwar, but a rally to allow the people of all races, religions and walks of life to send a clear and unmistakable message to the government about their opposition at unfair highway privatisation and unfair highway tolls.
The Anti-Toll Public Rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium transcends party politics, as it would be an occasion even for political parties and political leaders from both the government and opposition to take a common stand against unfair highway tolls. This is why Barisan Nasional leaders, MPs, Assemblymen/women and members are also invited to the anti-toll public rally.
The question of a security problem arising from the anti-toll public rally does not arise, for it is strictly a peaceful and orderly rally to Malaysians to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of speech and assembly.
Furthermore, the MCA is holding its 12,000-people golden jubilee dinner gathering at Bukit Jalil stadium on February 25, and if the police is not going to allow the anti-toll protest public rally to be held, then the police should also not allow the MCA to hold its political do at Bukit Jalil stadium.
There are two other reasons why the Police should go out of its way not only to issue a permit for the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally on February 26 but also help to make it a success.
Firstly, the police was partly responsible for the recent tarnishing of Malaysia’s image and reputation, both nationally and internationally, because of arbitrary and unlawful actions by “black sheep” in the police high command, like the scandal of Anwar’s “black eye” while under police custody and the spate of police shoot-outs and avoidable killing of unarmed or innocent members of the public.
The police owes the nation and people a special responsibility to restore Malaysia’s tarnished international image - which is forcing the Ministry of Tourism to spend RM30 million to repair Malaysia’s image and woo back foreign tourists as tourist arrivals to Malaysia had been adversely affected by such adverse international image.
There is no better and cheaper way to send a message to the world that Malaysia has returned to normalcy than for the police not only to issue a permit but to help in the successful holding of the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally at Bukit Jalil Stadium on February 26 in a peaceful and orderly manner.
The other reason why the police should go out of its way to make a success of the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally is for the Royal Malaysian Police Force to convince Malaysians that it has not forgotten its national obligations and commitments, particularly to uphold the Rukunegara.
One of the five objectives of the Rukunegara is to “maintain a democratic way of life” and as the holding of the Mammoth Anti-Toll Protest Public Rally is fully within the Rukunegara, the police should demonstrate that it is now committed to promoting and not undermining democracy in Malaysia.