Perak police chief cites late application, inappropriate venue and need to maintain security and order as reasons to disallow event
PETALING JAYA: Police have rejected an application for a permit to hold a public debate between former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Umno minister Nazri Aziz.
Bernama today quoted Acting Perak Police chief Hasnan Hassan as saying it was denied as the organisers submitted the application form late and because such an event was not allowed on school premises.
The debate was scheduled to be held in the hall of the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) in Kuala Kangsar on March 25.
“Police have also received written objections, with eight reports lodged by the public and residents in the vicinity who are worried about their safety and that of their families,” he said.
He said the application was only received yesterday evening from a representative of the Karangkraf Media Group under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. It was rejected by the Kuala Kangsar police chief.
Hasnan said the organiser should have informed the district police at least ten days in advance of the date of the event.
“The organising party should have informed the officer who supervises the district police, who is the district police chief, ten days before the gathering,” he said.
On March 17, former Umno information minister Zainuddin Maidin said in his blog that the debate would not take place but would be shot down by Umno on the pretext that it breached party discipline.
Zainuddin said Nazri should have sought permission from the party before agreeing to the debate. He added that he was not surprised Umno information chief Annuar Musa had declared Nazri was not representing the party in the matter.
The debate came about after Mahathir, who is chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), challenged Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri to a debate on political and economic matters affecting the nation. He specifically cited topics like 1MDB, the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal and the deposit of RM2.6 billion into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank account.
Mahathir, 91, had also given assurances that it would be held in a peaceful environment.
The two had been engaged in an exchange over the media after Nazri, upon learning that Mahathir and PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin are due in Padang Rengas on March 25 on PPBM’s ongoing tour, challenged one of them to an electoral fight in the constituency.
Mahathir called it an “empty challenge”, saying Nazri knows he has no intention to contest in the upcoming general election. He counter-challenged Nazri to do battle in Langkawi where Mahathir is the party’s new division chief.
The exchange culminated in a Mahathir aide telling FMT on March 10 that Mahathir had confirmed his keenness to debate with Nazri on certain key issues.
Last week, Perak Police had given a warning that the public debate constituted an illegal assembly if it did not have a permit under the Peaceful Assembly Act.
“It is the responsibility of the police to ensure safety and security of residents in the area is maintained with peace and order,” Hasnan said.
“The police would like to remind and give a warning to anyone involved in the gathering that severe action will be taken according to the provisions of the law,” he said.