IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police have rejected a permit application for a debate between Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Acting Perak police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Hasnan Hassan said the Kuala Kangsar district police had studied the application and felt it was not in the best interest of the people there.
"We have taken into consideration factors pertaining to safety, public order and protection of public rights and freedom.
"Kuala Kangsar OCPD Asst Comm Ahmad Termizi Abd Haq has rejected the permit application and has verbally informed the organiser, Kumpulan Media Karangkraf, on Monday," DCP Hasnan said in a statement on Tuesday (March 21).
"The organiser was also late in submitting the application, and only did so on March 20 at 3pm," he said, adding that it fell short of the 10-day requirement as required under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
The much-anticipated debate between Dr Mahathir and Mr Nazri was scheduled to take place at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) in Kati, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, on March 25.
DCP Hasnan said the permit was denied because the venue chosen was a school, which was a prohibited premises under the First Schedule in Section 3 of the Peaceful Assembly Act.
"The police have also received written objections. Eight police reports have been made by the public and residents living near MRSM.
"They are worried for the safety of their families as it involves their interests and well-being," he said.
"The Third Schedule of the Act also clearly states that any assembly or dialogue of this nature is not categorised as a permitted assembly," DCP Hasnan said.
Both Dr Mahathir and Mr Nazri had agreed to a public debate in the latter's constituency of Padang Rengas, in northern Perak, on March 25. Mr Nazri, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Najib Razak, had asked Dr Mahathir to contest in the Perak constituency.
Dr Mahathir, 91, said that he is not contesting in any seat and they should hold a debate instead.