If you think that the famous rock band ‘Guns and Roses’ will be appearing this Saturday to lend support to the election campaign, then dream on… This time it will be a standoff between kids with roses and heavily-armed riot police outside Parliament. Read the Malaysiakini report below.
The police have denied a permit for the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) to hold a gathering outside the Parliament building this Saturday, paving the way for a possible standoff should the movement decide to press on.
Sentul police chief ACP Ahmad Sofian Md Yassin told reporters today that the permit was denied on grounds of ‘security and public order’.
Hindraf supporters planned to gather 200 children and their parents to carry roses meant for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a symbolic Valentine’s Day gesture to call for the release of five Hindraf leaders held under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
“My advice to those invited to attend, is to stay away from the gathering,” warned Ahmad Sofian who stressed that the planned gathering was illegal since no police permit was granted.
In a letter addressed to PKR supreme council member S Manickavasagam, who applied for the permit on Hindraf’s behalf, Ahmad Sofian stated four grounds for rejecting the permit:
- Hindraf is not a registered body
- Intelligence suggest that there would be groups that would disrupt the planned gathering
- The gathering can cause disturbance of peace and public order
- The gathering would cause traffic congestion
Ahmad Sofian said Manickavasagam still had time to appeal against the decision with the Kuala Lumpur police chief within 48 hours.
Asked if roadblocks would be mounted on roads leading to the Parliament building and if a court order would be sought to bar people from gathering at the site, Ahmad Sofian said: “We will take action based on the law to ensure that the illegal gathering does not take place”.
Asked why the gathering could disrupt public order, considering that there would be no parliamentary sitting on Saturday, Ahmad Sofian said there were many tourist attractions in the area and the gathering could cause traffic problems.
However, he added that nearby tourist attractions such as Tugu Negara (National Monument) and Lake Gardens would still be open to public.
If the organiser proceeded with the gathering, Ahmad Sofian said special care would be taken by the police to ensure the safety of the children but warned that their parents could be charged for compromising the safety of their children.
Hindraf leader-in-exile P Waythamoorthy’s five-year old daughter Vwaishhnnavi is expected to be among the children in the event.
Other than the planned parade of flower bearing children, Hindraf hopes to hand over to Abdullah an 18-point memorandum on the needs of the Indian Malaysian community.
Meanwhile, Manickagasagam expressed disappointment with the permit rejection and vowed to file an appeal tomorrow.
He said the police had no reason to deny the permit as Hindraf had arranged for 100 marshals to maintain order during the event and that there would be less traffic on Saturday.
“We’re only asking for two hours (to gather). There would be no banners, no speeches, only roses. There is no reason for them to deny our right to assemble,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the premier, or at least a representative, would be at Parliament this Saturday to receive the roses.
He added that he believes that the police would obtain a court order barring people from gathering, but stressed that Hindraf was prepared for any eventuality.
Manickavasagam also did not discount the possibility of switching venue at the eleventh hour if necessary.