Chief Secretary’s threat void, says ex-judge


PETALING JAYA: A retired judge has ticked off Chief Secretary Ali Hamsa for threatening civil servants with pay cuts or dismissal if they participate in tomorrow’s Bersih and Red Shirt rallies.

Speaking to FMT, former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said Ali had made an “unconstitutional demand”.

He said public sector employees could exercise their constitutional rights provided it did not interfere with their professional duties.

“Participation in a rally is a right conferred under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and any restriction is absolutely void,” he said.

Bersih plans to have tomorrow’s rally at or around Dataran Merdeka. The Red Shirts movement of Umno divisional leader Jamal Yunos has threatened to hold a counter-rally at the same venue on the same day.

Ali recently said the Public Service Department would act against civil servants caught in photographs of the rallies published by the media.

Sri Ram said the prohibition was a disproportionate incursion against a constitutional right.

“You do not use a sledgehammer to kill a fly and the response from Ali is not proportionate to the harm intended to be dealt with,” he said.

Referring to an Education Ministry circular barring teachers from attending the rally, Sri Ram said any executive or legislative response must be proportionate to the object sought to be achieved.

“The circular is like administering a poison to cure a common cold,” he said, adding that it was null and void as it contravened the constitutional right to assemble peacefully.