Home Media statements 2009 Media Statements So when has fasting become an offence?

So when has fasting become an offence?

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Aliran is terribly perturbed by the increasing role the police are assuming which is perceived to be undemocratic and very unfair. They have intervened whenever peaceful activities such as candlelight vigils are organised by civil society groups.

These activities have not threatened the security of the nation neither have they caused any traffic congestion. And yet, participants have been dispersed and arrested  in a regrettable manner, causing pain and anguish for concerned citizens who mean well for this nation.   

Recently, the police have become so intolerant that they have intruded with impunity into the harmless individual actions of Malaysians. According to the Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming, “put up tent cannot, gather cannot, wear black cannot, hold candles cannot, drink teh tarik also cannot.”

Indeed, the police action has only accentuated the political problem and added tremendously to the Barisan Nasional’s headache. It is unfortunate that the police are viewed negatively and no longer come across as a ‘people-friendly’ force.

It is of utmost importance that civil society must have some space to articulate and demonstrate their grievances to make known to the authorities what their complaints are. In all civilised and civil societies, this democratic space is accessible and even  recognised as a matter of right.

This is why we are disturbed that the police deployed so much manpower and equipment to disrupt the fast that was scheduled to be launched today. According to The Malaysian Insider, “a total of 40 policemen, two jeeps, four police cars, two vans and seven trucks were seen in the area”. Most people will view this as a waste of police resources when the rate of serious crimes is escalating and requires urgent attention. The police should be tackling this serious problem instead of harassing  ordinary Malaysians.

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It is also unfortunate that people are beginning to view the police as taking sides in  the clash of wills  between the BN and the Pakatan. People are wondering whether the BN is putting pressure on the police, making it difficult for them to be neutral and to concentrate on their primary task of maintaining law and order. It would be more than a pity if Malaysians become disillusioned with the police.

The Prime Minister must ensure that as long as the peace is not breached and law and order is respected, the democratic space, which is a fundamental right, must be guaranteed to Malaysians. The PM should allow harmless activities, like fasting, to take place. The BN leadership must take note that the political turmoil  resulting from the illegal takeover of the legitimate government of the people is unlikely to abate. If anything, it will continue to escalate to the detriment of our young nation.

The only way to overcome the Perak crisis is to dissolve the Perak State Assembly and to hold fresh elections so that the people of Perak can choose their government they want to administer their state. Anything short of a state-wide re-election is travesty of democracy.

P Ramakrishnan
26 May 2009

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