Guarded reaction to lifting of ban on public rallies

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 18 Sep 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: The police are prepared for any eventuality at the next polls, following the green light to lift the ban on public rallies during election campaigns. 

But Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar said that although political parties would be allowed to hold rallies to explain their views and manifestos to the public, they were required to get police permits and abide by certain rules. 

Umno leaders voiced concern about unruly crowd behaviour if public rallies are allowed. 

Party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said: “There is no need for political parties to hold open rallies, as this would allow politicians to hurl abuses and insults at each other.” 

Umno Youth chief Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said: “We will study the decision as various repercussions might arise from the move. 

“Among the problems that might arise are those concerning security, as emotions tend to flare when speakers make fiery speeches when campaigning.” 

Kedah Barisan Nasional head and Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain said: “The ruling party had always abided by directives from the police and conditions imposed by the EC.” 

The major opposition parties generally welcomed the move but voiced their reservations about possible restrictions by enforcers. 

PAS religious adviser and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said: “I hope the Election Commission, while allowing public rallies, will not be biased in its actions against the opposition. 

“In a country practising the democratic system, it is only appropriate that public rallies be allowed when a general election is held.” 

PAS president and Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said: “The Election Commission should give a longer period for campaigning, starting from even before Nomination Day.” 

DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang said: “The decision to lift the ban on public rallies would be a futile exercise unless it is adhered to by the police and the local authorities. 

“The authorities may impose unreasonable restrictions when opposition parties apply for a permit, which is still required under the new ruling.” 

Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia pro tem head Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said: 

“The police still have say in the matter. We hope the police will not be one-sided when approving permits for the rallies.” 

Voters here generally welcomed the move, which they felt was consistent with the maturity of Malaysian voters after years of being an independent nation. 

Pharmacist Wilfred De Silva, 57: “Yes, election rallies should be allowed since Malaysia is a democratic country.” 

Pensioner Amos Ooi, 60: “If done the right way, there should be no problem in holding election rallies.”  

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