(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): I welcome the suggestion by the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi that I should see the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai if I am not happy about police decisions about permits for opposition ceramahs, such as last-minute cancellation of police permit for KeADILan ceramah in Temerloh on 23rd May 1999 to launch Pahang KeADILan.
In actual fact, Opposition leaders are still waiting for an appointment with Tan Sri Norian Mai on fair and impartial role of the Police with regard to ceramahs and public meetings organised by Opposition parties in the run-up to the general election, as well as efforts by the Police to restore its image and regain public confidence as a professional police force which is regarded as a friend of the people rather than an enemy or bully of the people caused by "bad apples" in the police force.
I had already written to the Inspector-General of Police asking for an appointment on behalf of the four Opposition parties, DAP, PAS, KeADILan and Parti Rakyat Malaysia, and when the appointment is made, leaders from the four Oppposition parties will comprise the Opposition delegation to meet the Inspector-General of Police and other top police officers.
Public confidence in the image, integrity and professionalism of the police fell to its lowest level recently when it was confirmed that it was the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, who was responsible for the criminal assault of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the first night of his arrest at Bukit Aman on Sept. 20 last year - and the police has still a long way to go before it could regain public confidence.
Abdullah Badawi said Opposition parties should be responsible and abide by the laws when holding ceramahs. The time has come for the Police to demonstrate it is aware that it has a higher duty to the nation than to the government of the day - and one such national objective is to promote democracy as a Malaysian way of life.
The Police should consider how it could help to foster democracy by revising all police rules, regulations and practices which constrain democratic freedoms when no security issue is involved - and the Police should start by lifting the 21-year ban on public rallies.