KUALA LUMPUR: The police will not curtail the people’s right to gather, but it must be done within the confines of the law, says Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.
The Inspector-General of Police advised the public to be patient in exercising their rights and expressing their opinions, especially following the political crisis that engulfed the nation recently.
“We respect the principles of democracy, including the rights to gather and voice out one’s opinions.
“But there are those who go overboard by using foul language and issuing seditious statements, as well as threats, ” he said at a press conference after the inaugural visit of Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Affendi Buang to Bukit Aman yesterday.
The IGP was commenting on concerns by NGOs that a sedition investigation was being conducted against a lawyer who organised a pro-democracy rally last week.
The police, according to Abdul Hamid, have taken action in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) in handling rallies.
“I hope the people appreciate the freedom they enjoying now. People in other countries have been deprived of such freedom.
“I also urge all NGOs to go back to the law. We don’t want to prevent any groups from gathering but they must follow procedures in accordance with the PAA.
“While police will not restrict people from gathering, many do so without informing us.
“How can we deploy sufficient manpower to ensure the safety of all if no notice was given?” he said.
Abdul Hamid said the police did not intend to prevent or sabotage a rally, but had to take into account public inconveniences such as traffic jams.
“For example, we suggested that a rally should be held at Padang Merbok with ample space but certain organisers insisted on conducting it on the road in the middle of the city.
“If you have the rally at a proper place with permission of the venue owner and inform us, we will oblige, ” he added.
He also advised anyone against gathering, given the Covid-19 outbreak.
“When you are angry, various viruses can enter (your body) as it is when your body is weakest, ” he said.
Asked on action against the lawyer, the IGP said the police had summoned her to record her statement.
“Once the investigation papers have been completed, we will forward it to the Attorney General’s Chambers, ” he added.
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