Hisham agrees to Jan 9 rally if…

In the spirit of the newly-passed Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, organisers must guarantee order, says the Home Minister.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Pakatan Rakyat leaders must convince the authorities that the planned Jan 9 mass rally in support of Anwar Ibrahim will not cause public disorder.

Far from the usual zero-tolerance tone given by the government in dealing with street gatherings, the minister did not say today if the rally, planned by PKR for the Sodomy II verdict, would be disallowed.

Instead he said in the spirit of the newly-passed Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, organisers must guarantee order if they were to proceed with the planned mammoth rally that intends to gather as many as 100,000 participants.

“The organisers have to convince the police that their plans will not destroy public peace and safety, and if they want to gather, the spirit of the Act states that it must be done peacefully,” he told a press conference here.

Yesterday PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said the party and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat intended to mobilise the numbers and gather at the Duta Court compound in support of Opposition Leader Anwar.

Anwar will hear the verdict on his sodomy charges this Monday in an outcome that will determine the PKR de facto leader’s political future and cause a deep impact in Malaysia’s political landscape.

The 64-year-old is charged with sodomising former male aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008, an allegation he has repeatedly denied, and accusing prime minister Najib Tun Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor of masterminding the “trumped up” charges.

Hishammuddin said no application has been made for the gathering yet but pointed to the several police reports lodged against the rally, a major concern the authorities must take into consideration when dealing with the Jan 9 event.

Police are ready

He said while Pakatan leaders want their demand to hold an assembly to be respected, they must do the same for those who oppose it.

“The organisers must be responsible and be aware of the rights of those who are opposed to the rally.

“I recommend that they go and speak to the police first, rather than making statements about the gathering,” he said.

Numerous pro-government NGOs like right wing group Perkasa had lodged several police reports against the rally and demanded that its organisers be arrested to prevent the rally from taking place.