PETALING JAYA: PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was charged at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court today, under Section 9 (1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 (PAA), for failing to give the police sufficient notice before holding the rally at the Kelana Jaya Stadium last week.
Nik Nazmi is the first person to be charged in relation to the rally as the police are in the midst of questioning others, including speakers at the rally which was called to highlight the alleged electoral fraud.
The case was heard before judge Rohana Ayub while the prosecution was done by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah.
Nik Nazmi, who is also Seri Setia state assemblyman, was charged under the PAA for failing to give the police a minimum 10 days notice before holding the rally at the Kelana Jaya Stadium on May 8.
If convicted, Nik Nazmi could be fined up to RM10,000, which could disqualify him from public office.
Speaking at a press conference later, the PKR leader said that many other leaders who participated in the rally last week may also be charged soon in an attempt to silence the opposition.
“In the summonses provided to me last night, there was a sheet that included the names of other Pakatan leaders who gave speeches on the day.
“I’m not sure whether they will be charged but that is the signal I’m getting from the statements made by the Selangor police chief (Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah),” he said.
Calling it a harassment against Pakatan leaders, Nik Nazmi said that charge was unconstitutional as the Federal Constitution allows Malaysians to assemble peacefully.
“All the rallies held by Pakatan were peaceful and patriotic. It shows that we have done no wrong,” he said.
‘Bad start for IGP, Home Minister’
On related matter, Nik Nazmi’s defence counsel, Eric Paulsen, said that he would challenge the constitutionality of the PAA in High Court soon.
He also alleged that the charge against Nik Nazmi was done in bad faith and was against public policy.
“Although the charge only involves a fine but I can see the authorities are trying to turn this into a sort of a traffic offence.
“So everytime you don’t give proper notice, the person gets fined. I’m sure many other Barisan Nasional supporters hold rallies without giving proper notice but we don’t see them getting charged,” said Paulsen.
He also said that the charge would not bode well for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s transformation agenda.
“It’s also a bad start for the new Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“This shows the return of the ironclad rule and the opposition will have limited space to voice out in the future,” said Paulsen.
Nik Nazmi was released without bail being called for and the case will be mentioned on June 4.
Earlier this morning, FMT spotted a heavy police presence at the court due to the arrival of about 30 PKR supporters.
The police even cordoned off the court and refused to allow the public into the compound of the court until about 9am.
One police personnel, who did not want to be named, said that the police took the measure in order to prevent provocators from causing trouble.
Also present were PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen.
Human rights movement Suaram meanwhile urged that the charges against Nik Nazmi is dropped immediately and unconditionally.
“If Prime Minister Najib is sincere about making meaningful political reforms, these reforms must be made in the spirit of protecting and promoting human rights rights and fundamental freedoms,” it said in a statement.
K Pragalath and G Vinod | May 17, 2013 Free Malaysia Today