KUALA LUMPUR: The police have hit back against those who claim the decision to cancel the debate between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was unconstitutional.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (pic) said the police were merely exercising their powers under Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967, "which forms the pillar of policing under the Federal Constitution."
He added that Section 20(3) of the act gave police discretionary powers to cancel the debate in the interest of the public.
"The decision to stop the debate was made after taking into consideration that if the event is allowed to take place, it will inevitably create public disorder," Khalid said in a statement on Tuesday.
He added that security concerns had arisen over the debate, as evidenced by the objections raised against staging the debate.
"To claim the police are abusing its powers is preposterous as we have facilitated other debates prior to this.
"It must be understood that the police are exercising its authority and judgement based on evidence of a potential threat to the safety and welfare of the public. As such, to say the police have indirectly obstructed freedom of speech is irrational," he said.
Khalid cited the the judgements in PP vs R. Yuneswaran, a Court of Appeal case.
"The judgement read – it is settled jurisprudence in public law that the rights of one set of citizens cannot override the rights of others.
"It is thus not a question of abuse of powers, but the duty of the police to exercise its discretionary powers, which is done in good faith and in the interest of the people," he said.
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