PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has urged the government and the police to immediately cease its investigation into the gathering held in support of Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.
LFL director Zaid Malek also called on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to give a public undertaking that there will be no further crackdowns on peaceful assemblies whether it was held by the government, opposition, civil society or the general public.
On Thursday, hundreds of political leaders and supporters gathered outside the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya in a show of support for Muhyiddin, who was called in for questioning over the Jana Wibawa programme which was launched during his time as prime minister.
Yesterday, the police said they had opened an investigation paper into the gathering.
Pointing to Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) consistent support of the public’s right to freedom of assembly without police harassment, Zaid asked whether it was “all mere rhetoric?”
He stressed that the right to peaceful assembly is protected under Article 10(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution and applied to all Malaysians, irrespective of their political alignment.
“We strongly urge the PH-led government to not renege on its own principles now that they are in power, by ensuring that the right to assemble peacefully is entirely protected,” Zaid said in a statement.
“It would be obvious hypocrisy, and a double standard, for a PH-led government to now preside over a crackdown on peaceful public assembly held by the current opposition.”
As the gathering was peaceful and dispersed quickly, he said there was no legal or moral justification for a criminal investigation to be opened against it.
He also claimed the probe was meant to “prevent the expression of dissent and the right to assemble.”
“That is an unlawful act by the police and government,” Zaid said.
He added that it was unreasonable to expect participants to “strictly comply” with the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) as public assemblies could occur on the spur of the moment as part of an immediate response to events.
“Demanding such (compliance) would be an unconstitutional limitation of the right to public assembly under the Federal Constitution,” he said, adding that the PAA was subordinate to the Federal Constitution.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Azmi Abu Kassim yesterday said those who attended the solidarity gathering for Muhyiddin would be called in for questioning.
According to a Bernama report, Azmi said police had opened an investigation paper on the case and it will be referred to the public prosecutor for further action.