Who has the final authority on the police ban of the Mahathir-Nazri debate – the IGP or the Home Minister?
The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, has turned the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, into a cypher (dictionary definition – “a person of no influence”) on whether the police should ban the Mahathir-Nazri debate to be organized by Sinar Harian at its premises in Shah Alam on Friday.
What is most shocking is that the police ban came within 24 hours of written police consent for the debate.
Not only the majority of Malaysians, but the majority of the police force, cannot accept Khalid’s absurd claim that the police are merely exercising their discretionary powers provided under Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967 in banning the debate between former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz on grounds of maintaining public order.
Khalid is scraping the bottom of the barrel invoking Section 3(3) of the Police Act, as this section makes no mention that the police enjoys “discretionary powers” to ban the debate.
Section 3(3) of the Police Act states:
“3(3) The (Police) Force shall subject to this Act be employed in and throughout Malaysia (including the territorial waters thereof) for the maintenance of law and order, the preservation of the peace and security of Malaysia, the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension and prosecution of offenders and the collection of security intelligence.”
Khalid also cited Section 20(3) of the same act which he alleged, conferred the police with discretionary powers to carry out such duties, in the interest of the public.
I have read up Section 20(3) of the Police Act 1967, and I find no reference whatsoever to the “discretionary powers” which Khalid has arrogated on behalf of the police in carrying out its duties.
Section 20(3) of the Police Act made it very clear that in the 13 categories of police duties, ranging from effecting arrests, processing security intelligence, conducting prosecutions, executing summonses or subpoenas to seizing stray animals, protecting public property, the police are enjoined to act lawfully – “may take such lawful measures and do such lawful acts” – and not to act at its whim and fancies, which was what the Police did in banning the Mahathir-Nazri debate within 24 hours of issuing a written consent!
In claiming “discretionary powers” and to act beyond the powers of the law, Khalid is in fact attacking the fundamental principles of the rule of law and democratic governance.
Surely, the Inspector-General of Police cannot be unaware of Section 4(1) of the Police Act on the “Control of the Police Force”, which state very clearly and explicitly that the Police Force “shall be under the command of an Inspector General who shall be a police officer and shall be responsible to the Minister for the control and direction of the Force and all other persons appointed or engaged for police duties”?
Khalid’s claim of police “discretionary powers” is not founded on the law and is no answer to the charge of police abuses of power in banning the Mahathir-Nazri debate.
The Home Minister has said that he will review the reasons behind the police ban on the Mahathir-Nazri debate.
Is this just a farce and charade, just to ensure that the Mahathir-Nazri debate organized by Sinar Harian in Shah Alam on Friday is sabotaged?
Let me remind Zahid that he is not a cypher as the IGP would want Malaysians to believe as under Section 4(1) of the Police Act, Zahid is finally responsible over police matters as even the IGP is responsible to him as Home Minister.
Under Malaysia’s present system of governance, it is Zahid and not Khalid who must have the last word on whether the Mahathir-Nazri debate on Friday should be banned or allowed.
Dare Zahid revoke the police ban on the Mahathir-Nazri debate within the next 24 hours as the police ban on Mahathir-Nazri debate is not founded on law but on the non-existent Police “discretionary powers”?