Sunday, March 30, 2008

Public demonstration is to voice dissatisfaction, not a carnival to be held at indoor venues

"r r" alternatif2007@yahoo.com

ImageThe Centre for Independent Journalism disagrees with the new Selangor chief minister, Khalid Ibrahim's suggestion to contain future public demonstrations in a stadium.

The suggestion misses the point of a public demonstration, which is for the public's voice on an issue to have as wide a reach as possible in the face of the present instutionalized restrictions.
Khalid should also recognize that the public who demonstrate have an issue to get across, and that they are not merely seeking for a venue to vent their frustration.

On March 27, Khalid was quoted in an interview with online news portal Malaysiakini. com that he prefered public demonstrations to take place in a stadium rather than the streets, on the reason that they obstruct traffic and businesses.

CIJ would like to point out that in public demonstrations organised peacefully and in the rallies in November 2007, the roadblocks by the police and the high handedness of the authorities, endorsed by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, caused more destruction and inconvenience than the public.

During the recently concluded elections, the police showed a more positive side by applying fair standards to maintain safety for all during gatherings organised by political parties.

Public interest should take the precedent above all and the burden of maintaining order should not be heaped upon the shoulder of the people so as to limit them from gathering at any public place.

Instead of granting a stadium, Khalid should allow the public the liberty to gather at any place and make sure that the police discharge their duty of ensuring safety and minimum obstruction to other people.

We wish to emphasise that often, public demonstration, a right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution, is the last measure after all other avenues to get heard by the state and its agents have failed.

The state government should therefore be attentive to the voice of the people, as the best measure to address the need for public gatherings.

CIJ asks the Mentri Besar to respect the public right to expression by allowing them to demonstrate at the venue of their choice and opening up channels for people's voices to get heard.

We also call upon newly elected MB to honour the pledges made during the election campaign, among them upholding the integrity of the elected representatives. We note with concern the less-than firm comment that it was up to the newly elected EXCOs to make public declaration of their assets.

In the interest of the people who have voted on their platform of accountability and transparency, we urge the selected leaders from all parties to publicly declare their assets and interests through the right mechanisms.

This means even UMNO leaders, who now sit on the opposition benches of the states like former Selangor Menteri Besar Mohd Khir Toyo, should not be exempted as a people's representative.
The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all people enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.

Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Executive Director
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
28th March 2008


Probable Source: Englishsection

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(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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