KUALA LUMPUR: Saturday July 5, 2008 MYT 4:59:36 PM
Deploying the army to help police maintain order during any public rally would contradict the Prime Minister's statement that security in Malaysia was under control, said 27 civil society organisations.
In a joint statement, they expressed their dismay at a report in a newspaper on Thursday that disclosed members of the police and armed forces were carrying out joint security exercises at the Police College in Cheras and that they were focused on a possible deployment in the Klang Valley in response to demonstrations in the event an emergency is declared.
They said this was evidence that some of those in authority were unable to comprehend the right of Malaysian citizens to peaceably exercise their fundamental liberties.
"Any such proposal to deploy the armed forces in this manner wrongly conveys the impression to both the Malaysians and the world at large that the country is already in a state of crisis or in imminent danger of falling apart. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"It will also make the recent statement of the Prime Minister that the security situation in the country is under control ring hollow," they said in calling on the Government to reject any proposal to deploy the army.
They said a well-entrenched democracy was important for progress and prosperity, adding a free and fair society and an open democracy were crucial to long-term peace and stability.
"We strongly urge the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to immediately assure the Malaysian public that the army would not be deployed in civilian matters and take to task those who are causing unnecessary alarm and concern and seemingly conniving in the disruption of peace and normal life in order to fulfil their personal agenda."
The statement signatories were: the All Women’s Action Society, Centre for Independent Journalism, Centre for Orang Asli Concerns. Civil Society Initiatives for Parliamentary Reform, Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KL-SCAH), Community Development Centre, Empower, Group of Concerned Citizens, Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jawatankuasa Kabajikan Mahasiswa/i, Labour Resource Centre, LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysian Youth and Student Democratic Movement, Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation, National Institute for Electoral Integrity, Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor, Pusat Kommunikasi Masyarakat, Research for Social Advancement, Sahabat Wanita, Sisters in Islam, Suara Rakyat Malaysia, Tenaganita, Women’s Aid Organization, Women’s Candidacy Initiative, Writers Alliance for Media Independence, Youth for Change and the Youth Section of the KL-SCAH.