28 SEPTEMBER 2015
I refer to the front page news in yesterday’s Sunday Post, ‘No more rallies, says DPM’. The DPM does not have the power to restrict the rights of the people to peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. The right to organise and assemble peacefully can only be restricted reasonably and not prohibited, as defined in Article 10 (2) (b) of the Federal Constitution.
The DPM should know that peaceful demonstrations are permitted under the Peaceful Assemblies Act, introduced in 2012, which allows gatherings to proceed without the need for a permit, although rally organisers must notify the police of the assembly. Even so, the Court of Appeal ruled in the case against Seri Setia State Assemblyman Nik Nazmi that failure by an organiser to give 10 days’ notice before a gathering would not render the assembly illegal and would not attract a criminal penalty for the organiser.
The problem we have in this country is the bias shown by the authorities in enforcing the law. Apparently there are 2 sets of laws, one for the elite UMNOputras and their cronies, and one for the opposition and ordinary members of the public. The Bersih 4 rally was a peaceful gathering calling for electoral reform, and yet the organisers are being investigated and charged for the Kita Lawan rallies held months earlier, in an apparent retaliation for Bersih 4. The Red-Shirt demonstration at Petaling Street by extremists who used racist placards and chants turned violent and yet no action has been taken against the organisers.
The fundamental problem in this country is UMNO, which is a party supporting racist policies and whose leaders play the racial card to hold on to the eroding support for them. It is no use coming to the Borneo states to tell us about equality for all races when your actions in West Malaysia speak louder than your words here. It is the federal government under UMNO that is responsible for the woes we face here, including uneven development, poor facilities, sub-standard education, and the like. The people of Sarawak are waking up to this fact and will show their displeasure at the next state elections.
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan.