MP SPEAKS Malaysia is built upon the principle of the supremacy of Constitution. Thus, no one is above the Constitution.
The principle of the supremacy of Constitution is supposed to protect every person in this country.
When the organizer of a peaceful assembly, Bersih intends to hold a peaceful assembly, it merely reasserts its constitutional right enshrined in the constitution. Nothing more, nothing less.
Yes, the police have a corresponding duy to protect public order. But such a duty does not include the right to compeletely deny the fundamental right of Bersih to hold any peaceful assembly.
No doubt, there is a federal law regulating any assembly in a public place.But the law only authorises the police to regulate any public assembly.The law does not give the police any right to deny any peaceful assembly.
Umno holds a false belief that Bersih possesses no right whatsoever to hold any peaceful assembly. Via its alter ego, Jamal Md Yunos and the red- shirts, it wants police to revoke rhe right of Bersih 5 to hold the assembly scheduled on November 19.
Multiple provocations have been done to inculcate fear among the concerned citizens not to support the Bersih 5 assembly. But what it fails to realise is that the unbecoming conduct of Jamal and his red shirts has freely advertised Bersih 5.
Legally speaking, the police have a duty to assist Bersih to organise the event on Nov 19. The Peaceful Assembly Act 2002 has been deliberately designed to facillitate and not frustrate any peaceful assembly. The awareness of basic human rights gave birth to the Act.
The Act has subtituted the now defunct Police Act 1967. The Police Act was not friendly to human rights. The Peaceful Asssembly Act has done away with the weird requirement of a police permit for the organization of any assembly in a public place. In fact under the Police Act , any assembly without any permit could be criminalised.
It has been widely reported that Jamal and his red- shirts have also intended to organise a counter assembly on November 19 at the same venue. Fearing of backlashes and potential conflicts between Bersih 5 and the red shirts, should the police take the easy way of annuling both assemblies? I dont think so.
The Peaceful Assembly Act has rightly envisaged the emergence of counter and simultaneous assemblies. Nevertheless, the emergence of a counter assembly is not an excuse for the police to prohibit Bersih from holding the assembly.
By virtue of section 18 of the Act, the Officer Commanding Police District ( OCPD) can allow Bersih to proceed with the assembly on Nov 19 , and at the same time gives the red shirts an alternative to organise its counter assembly at another time, date or place.
*Writer Mohd Hanipa Maidin is Sepang MP.