KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah has revealed today that the police had stopped a peaceful march by lawyers to the Parliament earlier today because they claimed that the event was "unsafe".
She also said that the police have failed in their duties and have stopped the lawyers from exercising their rights, and therefore the lawyers will continue to seek legal action against the police.
"We will not sit down quietly. We’re definitely taking it to court,” Cheah told a press conference here.
Despite negotiating with the police officers after embarking on the march in Padang Merbok, Cheah said the police only cited one word during the two negotiation sessions: "safety".
"I don’t know safety for what or safety for who, it was not elaborated,” Cheah said, adding that she believes the police were referring to the Prevention and Control of Diseases Act.
"What is the point of raising the issue of Prevention and Control of Disease Act to say there are safety concerns when they have already allowed us to assemble at the car park?”
The lawyer then expressed her disappointment in the way the police handled the situation today.
"The role of the police is supposed to facilitate the walk for us, to allow us to walk and assemble peacefully under the Peaceful Assembly Act. The police are not supposed to be there to frustrate our rights.
Cheah also pointed out that the memorandum set to be received in Parliament was agreed to by the government.
"The government is definitely with us in terms of upholding the independence of the judiciary, but as far as the police are concerned, they have completely failed their duties," she said.
"They have failed to follow the law. They have failed to facilitate the walk. In fact, they have gone out of their way to try to intimidate us and to stop us from exercising our constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
"The police have no justifiable reason in order to stop us from walking,” she added, and said the Bar Council is currently gathering photos and videos as evidence against the police’s pushback and to seek legal counsel on their next steps.