Malaysia

Rais: Choosing mega-rally venue unilaterally shows Pakatan ‘arrogance’

By Ida Lim
January 06, 2013

Rais said PR should have engaged the authorities before deciding on Stadium Merdeka. — File picRais said PR should have engaged the authorities before deciding on Stadium Merdeka. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 ― Naming Stadium Merdeka for the January 12 mega-rally without discussing with the police and stadium authorities reflects Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) “arrogance”, said Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Organisers of the “Hari Kebangkitan Rakyat” rally hope to draw a million-strong crowd to the historic stadium to protest several issues but have yet to get any approvals, setting the stage for a showdown with the authorities.

“Parties, whether it’s PAS, opposition parties or any non-governmental bodies, cannot force (their) choice of venue where they want to demonstrate,” Rais said, adding this was according to the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA).

He said that one of the provisions under the PAA was that rallies should not be held near schools and places of worship. The Stadium Merdeka is in an area where there are schools and a mosque.

He said the federal opposition should have negotiated with the police before determining a rally venue.

“This shows arrogance and goes against the laws of the country,” he said in a press conference here.

Earlier on, he pointed out that rally organisers should consider the safety of children and other people in the vicinity of the rally area.

The minister asked that PR adhere to the PAA in the interests of the country and those who own the rights to the rally premises.

He said the rally may be held at Stadium Merdeka if the police and stadium’s management approve PR’s choice.

Rais also said that an area within the city may not be suitable for large gatherings.

He went on to advise PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who he said is an experienced man with religious background and who loves Islam, to respect the country’s laws.

Earlier on, he pointed out that rally organisers should consider the safety of children and other people in the vicinity of the rally area.

The minister asked that PR adhere to the PAA in the interests of the country and those who own the rights to the rally premises.

He said the rally may be held at Stadium Merdeka if the police and stadium’s management approve PR’s choice.

Rais also said that an area within the city may not be suitable for large gatherings.

Electoral reform group Bersih was refused use of Stadium Merdeka for their rally in July 9, 2011, but were then offered use of the historic stadium last April 28 for their third rally, which the movement turned down in favour of Dataran Merdeka.