Keep it legal, cops warn anti-GST rally organisers

Participants of an anti-GST rally holding banners in front of Parliament before the tabling of Budget 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, October 25, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Participants of an anti-GST rally holding banners in front of Parliament before the tabling of Budget 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, October 25, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Organisers of the upcoming May Day rally were reminded by the police today to obtain the necessary approvals before staging their protest against the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang said the police indicated they were not opposed to the gathering, but had asked that organisers fulfil all conditions necessary within the law to ensure the event proceeds smoothly.

“If we can adjust to their request, we will adjust accordingly but we will have to discuss about their suggestions with the organisers first,” the Batu MP told reporters after meeting with Dang Wangi district police chief assistant commissioner Zainuddin Ahmad this afternoon.

Chua was joined by PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and treasurer Hatta Ramli as well as DAP Youth chief Teo Kok Seong in the hour-long meeting today.

“We have given our word that we will ensure we will not disrupt public order that will result in anything untoward,” added Chua.

“Our purpose is to focus on issue of GST, of abuse of power and inflation. We don’t intend to deviate from the objectives of our gathering,” he added.

The Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 prohibits any assembly that are deemed “protests”, a definition that is left to respective district police chief to determine.

Section 9(1) of the legislation requires organisers to inform the district police chief of their intended purpose 10 days before date of assembly.

The planned May 1 rally is organised by a coalition of 89 non-government organisations, including workers rights group Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) and Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM).

Federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has pledged to back the protest to stop Putrajaya’s roll-out of the controversial broad taxation system next year.

While the NGOs plan to gather at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre and march from there to Dataran Merdeka, Mohamad said supporters of the various political parties will assemble in other locations close to the historic square.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor said the Kuala Lumpur City Hall will not approve the use to Dataran Merdeka even if the organisers sought for consent.

Responding to this, Chua said the matter will be raised and decided by the organisers.

The rally, themed “GST — Protest till it is dropped”, is to coincide with the International Worker’s Day celebration.

Detractors have argued that the broad-based tax is “regressive” and takes a larger percentage of income from those in the low-income groups than from high-income groups.

PR mounted its campaign against the GST in the run-up to Election 2013, insisting that the implementation tax must coincide with an increase in disposable income.

However, GST Bill was passed through the Dewan Rakyat on April 7, despite stern resistance, ensuring that the consumption tax starts at a flat rate of 6 per cent beginning April 1 next year.

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