IGP: Follow the conditions

Don’t take advantage of cops’ willingness to allow people to gather

THE police yesterday cautioned rally organisers to adhere to the 10 conditions that have been discussed and agreed upon by both parties at a meeting on Friday to ensure a peaceful gathering, but Parti Keadilan Rakyat defiantly claimed there was no such discussion and rejected the conditions outright.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said city police had briefed the organisers of the gathering at the meeting held ahead of Datuk

Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial verdict, before giving them the approval to gather at the car park in front of the Kuala Lumpur court complex.

“I now urge them not to misuse this permission.

If they adhere to the conditions, there won’t be any problems,” Ismail told newspaper editors at a special briefing in Bukit Aman yesterday.

“We have shown our willingness to allow them to gather, don’t take advantage. The organisers, too, have the responsibility of ensuring a peaceful gathering.”

The organisers have kicked up a storm about the 10 conditions as they alleged that they were not told about this during Friday’s meeting, and that the conditions suddenly appeared on the police’s Facebook page later that day. “We will consider that there are no restrictions,” PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said yesterday.

Among the conditions are that they do not show up with banners carrying the slogans “Free Anwar 901” or “Free Anwar”, do not gather anywhere other than the car park and to disperse peacefully when ordered.

Ismail explained that there was a need to impose the conditions as the organisers themselves have a role to play in ensuring a peaceful gathering.

“It is in the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 where the organisers also have the obligation to maintain law and order,” he said, adding that police were concerned that there would be certain quarters who would take advantage of the situation to cause chaos.

Police will cordon off the car park to accommodate the gathering but stress that the area can hold only about 5,000 supporters.

Ismail said the others who turn up would be ordered to disperse and they must obey all instructions given by policemen. The organisers had alleged that at least 100,000 supporters would turn up tomorrow.

“They cannot gather anywhere else in the country. It is not a blanket approval to hold gatherings anywhere else,” he said.

On the carrying of banners and placards with the words “Free Anwar 901” or “Free Anwar”, Ismail said this is tantamount to sedition.

“This is showing disrespect to the court process. No one can free Anwar except the court,” he said.

He also urged the  supporters to ensure the sanctity of the court premises by not shouting as they would be about 60 to 70 metres away from the court complex.

The crowds will be given an hour, after the verdict is announced, to disperse.

The IGP said they had received 740 reports against tomorrow’s gathering but stressed that they were not ignoring those reports.  He said in the spirit of the act, police had decided to allow the gathering.

“This was not my decision alone. I discussed this with my deputy and seven directors and it was a collective decision. We have to meet the expectations of the people.

“This shows that Malaysian police are willing to transform, to change, but it also does not mean that we are running away from our responsibilities. Our main concern is maintaining law and order.”

In the event that the situation turned chaotic, Ismail said police would  “respond to the situation”.

“Be responsible Malaysians. This is a criminal case which has gone through the system.

“This is not a game. Don’t do anything stupid.”