By Hamzah Nazari

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2:

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the ministry tried to observe the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act during the rally held against the Goods and Service Tax.

“That is the reason the police did not interfere. However, protesters must observe what the police tell them. They have a right to assemble, but they have to observe the rights of others, such as the right of motorists.

“Those are the conflicting rights, but the police and the ministry agreed to interfere minimally in the event yesterday. That’s why there was no interference from the police even though they were on main roads.”

On fights which erupted between a few Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia members and PAS’ Unit Amal as well as the assault of some press members by a small group of youths, Dr Wan Junaidi said police would follow up on any police reports filed.

However, the restraint of the police yesterday was praised by many civil society and political party leaders present at yesterday’s rally.

Among those who had voiced their appreciation were Parti Sosialis Malaysia secretary-general S. Arutchelvan, Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Tian Chua and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Malaysian Press Photographers Association (MPPA) secretary-general Mohammad Naim Firdaus Abdul Aziz said the association would file a police report and refer to their lawyers as there was photographic evidence of the incidents that took place between the youths and members of the press.

Bernama reported that police today confirmed receiving reports from three members of the press who were allegedly roughed up by protesters.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad said the reports were lodged yesterday evening against the organisers of the rally, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM).

“The case will be investigated under Section 146 of the Penal Code for rioting. No arrests have been made yet,” he told Bernama today.

Xinhua News Agency cameraman, Mohd Zul Iskanda Mohd Hanafiah, Focus Malaysia photographer Sharil Amin Abdul Rahim and Malaysian Reserve photographer Hafzi Mohamad alleged they were kicked, punched and hit by a wooden flag pole thrown by participants.

Home Minister calls for stern action

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has called on the police to take stern action against the individuals who assaulted several cameramen covering the rally against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at Dataran Merdeka here yesterday.

Expressing his sympathies to the police and media personnel, Ahmad Zahid told a press conference here today that the incident clearly showed that the organisers had breached the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

In the incident about 4.30pm yesterday, three cameramen were roughed up by a group of youths dressed in black, whose faces were hidden by cloth covering.

Two of them were punched and kicked, while the other was hit by a piece of wood hurled in his direction.

“The rally also disrupted the public and businesses in the vicinity.

“We will discuss the matter as long as they are rational, but if they refuse than they have no choice but to face the consequences of their own actions.”