PETALING JAYA – Kumpulan Media Karangkraf, the organiser for the Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad debate, said it was clueless as to why a permit was required for it to take place.

Its managing director, Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacub, said the group had organised 45 similar debates to date, none of which required them to obtain approval from the authorities.

“Before this, there was never a need to apply for a permit. We just had to inform the police. But they insisted that we apply for one this time, I’m not even sure why.

“We have organised 45 such debates. There was even one involving then Bersih 2.0 chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and the Election Commission, where thousands came to watch. Even that, we only informed the authorities,” he told theSun today.

Hussamuddin said he was also puzzled that having already obtaining the permit on March 31 for the April 7 debate at Karangkraf headquarters, the police had decided to call it off the day after on grounds of public safety, despite the organiser having fulfilled all requirements.

“We complied to all the requirements, including the same format as previous debates, having it in closed doors, and in a gated area.

“We have even assured that we would control the crowd, even from outside our main gate. Unfortunately, this is the first time we have our approval revoked,” he said.

Hussamuddin said Karangkraf respected the police’s decision, and would not go ahead with the debate.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Nazri said he would provide a statement to the press in parliament tomorrow.

Earlier, Selangor deputy police chief DCP Datuk Mohd Fuad Abdul Latif said the police intelligence unit had gathered information that certain parties might disrupt public peace and order, not only on the day of the debate but the days leading up to the debate.

He said the organisers had applied for a permit under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act but the Shah Alam police chief rejected the application over public safety concerns.

He said that there had also been public objections in the form of police reports lodged all over the state.

“We had to cancel the debate after receiving 18 police reports from Shah Alam and all over Selangor, including Hulu Selangor. We will also investigate the reports lodged by individuals who feared for their own safety and that of their family members,” he said in a press conference at the Selangor state police headquarters here today.

This is the second time in as many attempts that the police had cancelled the debate between the two.

The debate was supposed to be held in Kuala Kangsar on March 25 but was cancelled after Perak police refused to issue a permit.

Mohd Fuad refuted Mahathir’s claims that the debate should not be cancelled as the venue, Karangkraf’s headquarters here, was in an industrial area and not in a residential area.

“Maybe he can come and visit the area first. There is a residential area close by and there are people (working) in the industrial area as well,” he said, adding that there is a possibility for the debate to go on in the future, although public safety is given the top priority.

The Bar Council has in the past criticised the decision by the police to disallow assemblies under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, stating that the right to assemble peacefully is provided for by the Federal Constitution.

The constitutional right to assemble peaceably and without arms is guaranteed by Article 10(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution.

– Sundaily