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Kuala Lumpur police chief Azmi Abu Kassim today said the police did not have a problem with MPs entering Parliament and had instead assembled outside the august House to stop an “illegal” rally.
This was despite riot police forming a phalanx at the road leading to Parliament, sealing off the entrance and denying the opposition MPs’ bid to enter this morning.
“The police received information that said there will be a ‘Solidarity gathering with Anwar Ibrahim’ at Parliament today, and we checked with Parliament that told us there is no sitting today.
“Thus, we put up roadblocks to bar vehicles and individuals from entering Parliament. That was the basis for our actions,” Azmi said in a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.
However, he later acknowledged that MPs are usually allowed into Parliament when there are no sittings because they have offices there too.
When pressed about this, he explained that the police took action on information they received about an “illegal gathering”, not about any “Parliament gathering”.
“The information we received did not say ‘Parliament gathering’, but it was an illegal gathering.
“It is because of this information that we set up the roadblocks and alternative routes. This is not about the MPs, this is about the information we received.
“For the sake of ensuring the safety of the community and the MPs themselves, we made the decision to close off parts of the roads in Kuala Lumpur and have alternative routes,” Azmi said.
He added that the police have received two police reports against the gathering and have started investigations based on that, under Section 9 of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012, Section 269 of the Penal Code and Act 342.
Section 9 of the PAA states that the organiser of an assembly must notify the police 10 days before the date of the assembly.
Section 269 of the Penal Code deals with negligent acts likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life.
This morning, opposition lawmakers had attempted to enter Parliament - which the government had suspended from sitting - but they were stopped by roadblocks at all roads leading to Parliament.
The MPs had gathered at Dataran Merdeka around 10am instead, before attempting to march towards Parliament.
Once again, they were stopped by a human barrier of Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officers at the entrance of Jalan Parlimen, in front of the Bank Rakyat building.
After unsuccessful negotiations with the police, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim gave a brief speech and asked everyone to disperse around 10.43am.
Azmi said in the press conference that the police had deployed over 500 officers to handle the incident this morning.