KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — The opposition turned its nose up today at Putrajaya’s suggestion that it find an alternative location for its June 15 rally, scheduled to take place at Padang Merbok, after Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) refused to grant permission for the field’s use, saying the event will proceed as planned.
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli said Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s statement yesterday would not hinder Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) original plan.
“For now, the rally will proceed. Tengku Adnan’s remarks will not be a deterrent,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.
But the Pandan MP (picture) added that there will be several issues that the pact would have to consider following feedback and consultation from the police, which he said will be treated seriously.
Tengku Adnan said yesterday that the KL City Hall would not permit PR to use Padang Merbok as the venue of its June 15 rally.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general denied, however, that this was intended to stop the federal opposition pact from proceeding with the event, saying instead that the venue was not suitable as it was an open space.
He advised PR to move its rally to an indoor venue, such as a stadium or other locations deemed more appropriate.
“We allow them to hold their gathering in a closed area. I was informed by the mayor that they applied to use Padang Merbok.
“But to me, Padang Merbok is an open space... when it comes to open spaces, we will not give (our permission) because we know the law and abide by it,” he said when approached after a function in KL Sentral here.
PR chose Padang Merbok as the venue for its June 15 rally after the authorities advised them against using the iconic Dataran Merdeka.
Rafizi said last week that notices for the planned rally ― scheduled for 2pm next Saturday ― were submitted to the police and DBKL, adding that he expects no arrests to be made since the protest will be done in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly Act (PPA).
“The decision to hold the ‘Black 505’ rally at Padang Merbok took into consideration the Royal Malaysia Police’s advice against using Dataran Merdeka, although we feel that Dataran Merdeka is the most suitable place for the rakyat to gather and voice their aspiration contained in the ‘Black 505’ demands,” he told reporters at PKR’s headquarters here.
“Black 505” was created as a protest movement against allegations of widespread irregularities in the May 5 general election that saw the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) retain power despite losing the popular vote.
Yesterday, the Bar Council appeared to suggest that the police have been exploiting the 10-day prior notice clause in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PPA) to block the opposition from holding street rallies.
Its president Christopher Leong criticised the authorities for charging PR leaders for allegedly violating the PPA by failing to issue the notice before holding several “Black 505” protests nationwide, arguing that it was unnecessary for them to do so.
The Bar Council president noted that the prior notice requirement under the PPA was merely drawn to give the authorities time to arrange, facilitate and ensure a rally is held peacefully.
“Under the PPA, there is no approval needed...the 10-day requirement is not a good provision,” he said.
Leong’s criticism comes on the heels of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s suggestion that the opposition had failed to meet the criteria of the provision when it notified the police about its plans to hold a mass rally at Padang Merbok.
According to Sinar Harian today, Khalid said the notice was incomplete following PR’s failure to obtain approval to hold a protest from DBKL.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that PR could proceed with the planned June 15 rally, dubbed “Black 505”, if it were conducted within the provisions of the PPA.
Immediately after the May 5 polls, PKR’s #siasatPRU13 team made a series of exposes on what it claimed was proof of polls fraud as the opposition moved to pressure Putrajaya to implement polls reform, starting with the complete overhaul of the Elections Commission (EC).
PR and other civil society groups have since held mammoth rallies since May 5 to push their agenda for reform, outlining three main conditions with the first being the resignation of all EC members for the commission’s failure to ensure a free and fair Election 2013.
~ The Malaysian Insider