July 23, 2008
Roadblocks undermine National Productivity!
This is a recent press statement that the CPPS released…
CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY STUDIES
PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Centre for Public Policy Studies disagrees with the set-up of Police roadblocks in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor as a method of preventing peaceful public gatherings. Although the Police have every right to fulfill their mandate to protect law and order, peaceful demonstrations do not pose a threat to the security of the public. Public safety is of little use if the people cannot enjoy it; the role of the Police is to ensure peaceful demonstrations remain peaceful and safe, not to obstruct them and prevent the expression of public sentiment.
Under the law, public gatherings require a permit. However, there is no reason for the Police to obstruct the issuance of a permit unless they have reason to believe the gathering is meant to foment violence and public disorder. The issuance of permits for public gatherings should be a simple and straightforward matter, as it is in countries such as the United Kingdom. Under the Federal Constitution, every Malaysian has the right to freedom of expression, and as long as the Police have no reason to believe a particular citizen or group of citizens is acting with intent to undermine the security of the country, they must allow those citizens their right of self-expression.
The Police decision to continue the erection of roadblocks in and around the Klang Valley is counterproductive, undermining not only basic civil rights, but economic rights as well. The vast majority of Malaysians affected by this decision are not potential rioters or even peaceful demonstrators. They are men and women on their way to work and school. By creating unnecessary traffic jams, the Police significantly reduce productivity in one of the most economically productive regions of the country, for no apparent reason.
The Centre for Public Policy Studies calls on the Police to make use of pre-set guidelines for public gatherings, and to only erect such obstructions where there is proof of an imminent threat to public safety and security. It is entirely possible for the Police to conclude civil agreements with the organizers of public gatherings in a way mutually beneficial to all. Peaceful demonstrations are not harmful to public order, and when properly protected, represent the exercise of a basic civil liberty of freedom of expression all Malaysians are entitled to. The Centre also reiterates its support for the recommendation of SUHAKAM in its report on the public inquiry into the KLCC demonstrations that Parliament amend the Police Act to repeal the requirement of a permit for peaceful public gatherings.