KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The police has no jurisdiction over a proposed debate between Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PKR MP N Surendran said today.
According to the lawyer, an indoor debate is not considered public assemblies that are covered under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA), and therefore the reasons given by the police in rejecting it was “absurd.”
“The rejection of the said notice is misconceived, unlawful and quite absurd. Since when do indoor debates require the sanction of the police?” he asked in a statement.
“An indoor debate is not a public assembly; it is merely a debate between two persons with an audience. Therefore the requirement of a 10 day notice under PAA does not apply.”
Surendran said any attempt by the police to interfere with or block the event would be be in breach of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and expression.
“In fact, the organisers were not under any kind of legal obligation to give any notice to the police. The police should have treated the purported notice given by the debate organisers as nothing more than voluntary information, instead of announcing that they have rejected it,” he said.
The Padang Serai MP added that the authorities also are legally unable to take action on the organisers if they go ahead with the debate.
“Consequently, the police have no legal authority to ban the event or take action against participants or organisers,” Surendran added.
Nazri, the Malaysian tourism and culture minister had agreed to Dr Mahathir in his home constituency of Padang Rengas when the senior leader visits the area as part of his nationwide campaign for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
The police however have disallowed a debate between Nazri and the former prime minister, claiming the application for a permit by the organisers was done at the last minute.