KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police said yesterday that they will not approve a planned debate between former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz due to security concerns, the second time the proposed meeting has been blocked by police.
Selangor's deputy police chief Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff said police intelligence showed that there would be certain parties who might cause disturbance, not only on the day itself but also on the days leading up to and after the event.
"We came to this conclusion after receiving 18 police reports from not only Shah Alam but also all over Selangor. That is why we decided that it is best to cancel the debate," he told a news conference at the state police headquarters.
He said police are investigating reports lodged by individuals who feared for their families and their own safety.
Last Friday, the police had given their approval for the debate, scheduled for April 7, to be held at the headquarters of publishing group Karangkraf in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor.
The approval was rescinded a day later.
A meeting planned in Perak on March 25 was approved at first, but Perak police later refused to issue a permit, citing security concerns.
Tun Dr Mahathir is keen to raise issues linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak, including the financial scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, in the debate.
Datuk Seri Nazri wants to bring up questions over past scandals involving the former premier, including the billions of dollars lost due to foreign exchange trading by the Malaysian central bank.
Dr Mahathir yesterday questioned the decision to cancel the debate on grounds of public order.
He said the debate's venue is at an industrial area and not a residential area.
But Deputy Commissioner Mohd Fuad said that there is a residential area nearby and that there are workers in the industrial area.
Karangkraf, publisher of Malay daily Sinar Harian, had said that the attendees would be only some 400 invited guests.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK