Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP far Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Thursday, October 6, 1994 at 11.30 a.m.
The Police must not be ‘more Barisan Nasional than Barisan Nasional’ in allowing extraneous factors, to intrude on the question as to whether the ban public rallies should be lifted
The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rabim Mohamed Noor said in Ipoh yesterday the police will decide whether the ban on public rallies will be lifted when the date for general election is announced.
He claimed that “At present, even without. public rallies, our studies show that people are free to make their choice” and that the ban on public rallies imposed after the 1969 riots had not prevented the people from making a free choice in any election.
‘The IGP has got his facts and history wrong. In the first place, public rallies were not banned after the 1969 riots.
In fact, if the police had conducted a full study into the history of public rallies in Malaysia, the IGP would agree that public rallies had never been the cause of public disorders in the country.
Even the 1969 riots had nothing to do with public rallies. This was why when political activities were normalised in 1971, public c rallies were also allowed, and in the 1974 general elections, public rallies were held without any untoward incidents.
Public rallies were banned only on 4th June 1978, not because public rallies were a threat to security and public order, but because the Police wanted to ‘maintain maximum vigilance until Merdeka Day on August 31 because of the possibility of violent incidents on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya on June 20″ and that “such incidents may be carried out in. States where there have been no previous manifestations of communist activity.”
In the event, there was not a single incident on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the armed struggle of the Malayan Communist Party – not even a ‘cracker’ went off – but the 12-week ban has ended up as a 16-year lean, despite the Haadyai Accord in 1989 where the Malayan Communist Party announced the end of its armed struggle and the laying down of its arms.
If the Inspector-General of Police can be so wrong about the history and reasons for the 1978 ban of public rallies, which was meant for 12 weeks but which became a 16-year ban, can Malaysians expect the Police to be impartial and non-partisan in its recommendations about’ public rallies?
The Inspector-General of Police is also wrong when he claimed that police studies have shown that Malaysians are ‘free to make their choice’ in elections without public rallies.
Who conducted such studies? Is the Police prepared to make public such a study to be subject to public scrutiny and debate, and to reveal the ‘experts’ who did such a study?
When did the police exceed its jurisdiction and responsobolity to be the guardian of security, law and order to become also political experts and scientists capable of judging whether general elections in Malaysia are ‘free, fair and clean’?
Is the Police more qualified than the, Election Commission on the question whether general elections are ‘fair, free, and clean’?
The Election Commission has called for the lifting of the ban on public rallies and a more fair mass media treatment of all political parties during the general elections. The Police role should be strictly confined to whether the lifting of the ban on public rallies would pose a security threat and it should not trespass into areas which is none of its concern nor within its expertise, on issues as whether the voters have a free choice in general elections.
The Police should not be ‘more Barisan Nasional than the Barisan Nasional’ in allowing extraneous factors to intrude on the question as to whether the ban on public tallies should be lifted.
In fact, the Police should explain why it could not decide now on the lifting of the ban on public rallies, but must wait until the general election date is known?
If public rallies do not pose a threat to the security and public order, then they should be allowed as part of the political democratic process, whether during general elections or not.