KUALA LUMPUR: The police are ready to deal with any troublemakers to preserve public order during this weekend’s Bersih 4 rally, which has been deemed illegal by the authorities.
City police chief Comm Datuk Tajuddin Md Isa warned that instigators of violence and those who commit any act of violence would face the full brunt of the law.
“Let me be very clear. Don’t go overboard or resort to violence.
“We will not tolerate instigators who inflame situations and make it worse. They will be dealt with sternly,” he said.
Comm Tajuddin said although police had advised people not to join the rally as it was illegal, there would be adequate police presence to ensure no untoward incidents occur.
He said police would not set up roadblocks or impose other measures to prevent people from heading into the city centre.
“Our main priority is the safety and security of everyone,” he said.
When asked to comment on the the plan by another group, the so-called anti-Bersih or “red shirts” to also march on Aug 29 and Aug 30, he said: “Action would be taken against any participants, be it yellow or red shirts, if they threaten security and public order.
“We have started investigations on both parties,” he said, adding that police would perform their duties without fear or favour.
(The anti-Bersih group later announced that it had decided to postpone its protest and hold its own rally within two weeks, probably in a stadium.)
Asked if tear gas or water cannons would be used at the Bersih 4 rally, Comm Tajuddin said: “We hope that it will not come to that.
“It will be as a last resort if public order is jeopardised or if the situation warrants it.”
Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Zainol Samah said the organisers had yet to obtain permission from the owners of the venues, as needed under Section 11 of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012.
He said Section 17(2)(a) of the PAA also stipulated that two gatherings or celebrations could not be held simultaneously at the same location, adding that rehearsals for the Merdeka celebrations were being held at Dataran Merdeka.
He reminded participants that bringing children to the illegal rally was also an offence as it contravened Section 20(1)(c) of the PAA.
The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) has also been put on standby this weekend.
Internal Security and Public Order director, Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Muhammad Fuad Abu Zarim said FRU personnel would be ready to face any incidences of disorder.
“However, the Kuala Lumpur police chief will decide when the FRU is needed and deployed to the scene at a moment’s notice. The number of personnel is sufficient,” he said.
SDCP Muhammad Fuad said he did not foresee any problem in sending the unit to help the police force.
There have been sightings of FRU trucks on major highways, sparking speculation the unit’s personnel were being mobilised for the illegal rally set for Saturday and Sunday.
Earlier, Armed Forces (ATM) chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, said the military would only intervene if the government declared a state of emergency.
“If it is categorised as a threat to public order, we will take over the role of the police in containing the situation,” he told reporters at the Defence Ministry on Thursday.
Jen Zulkifeli clarified that although soldiers had not been sent to monitor the rally, the armed forces had been conducting annual training sessions for the eventuality that the gathering might get out of hand.
“It doesn’t mean we have not been carrying out training to maintain public order.
“We need to ensure we are always prepared, skilled and efficient in our duties if a state of emergency is declared,” he said.
Jen Zulkifeli said it was important to take preventive measures as ATM was concerned that an incident similar to the Aug 17 bombing of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand could happen in this country.
“We worry that rallies like this can result in a state of emergency because of certain reasons. There are always people who take advantage of situations and this is what we worry about.
“There are many factors which can turn a rally, however peaceful, into a chaotic situation,” said Jen Zulkifeli.