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KUALA LUMPUR, April 23, 2015:

In an attempt to describe what he alleged as “abuse of power” carried out by the Malaysian government, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali quoted legendary artiste John Lennon’s Power to the People song to more than a hundred representatives of the 10 Asean countries present at the Asean Peoples’ Forum held at Wisma MCA here today. “Don’t be surprised that the new, enhanced Sedition Act will allow the police to further use their power of arrest. The IGP (Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar) will soon be happily tweeting of my seditious speech. “We have way too many laws that give the government power over the people.” Mohamed Azmin, who is also the deputy president of PKR, took the opportunity which other delegates used to discuss ways to improve and strengthen the Asean association, to air out the crises and controversies faced by Malaysia and its government, including claims of abuse of power, tampered electoral process, and the proposed Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), among others.

“Talking about the powers that be, we cannot escape talking about the laws that have been forced upon us such as the newly released amendments to the Sedition Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) that were recently passed under very unceremonious circumstances.

“So for old time’s sake let’s see what the song says: Power to the people say you want a revolution, well get on your feet and out on the street.

“The key phrase here is power to the people. But here, there are many laws that have given power over the people. One thing we can be sure of these laws is that the powers are far wider ranging than before.

“They have also imposed a mandatory minimum three-year sentence upon Malaysians, taking away the discretionary powers of the courts in this regard.

“There’s indeed insult to the judiciary and if I may add, a double insult to all fair minded, peace loving people who cherish justice and freedom.”

Speaking at the luncheon talk in the massive hall of the BN component’s building, Mohamed Azmin reiterated his disagreement over the recent racial controversy that was the protest of around 50 residents of Taman Medan who demanded that a church’s crucifix be taken down for fear that it would shake the religious beliefs of young Muslims in the area.

“I immediately condemned the act as unconstitutional. Christians regard the cross as sacred. This involves the violation of their right to practise their religion unmolested.

“I just want to say this again. The Pakatan-led government of Selangor firmly believes in the principle of justice in all matters, what more in respect of religious and ethnic issues.”

The four-day annual civil society conference involves over 1,400 participants who have gathered in the aim of bringing together members of civil society and all 10 Asean members’ governments to discuss concerns of people in the region.

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