Friday, October 15, 2010

Dummkopf, it's Nazri's red book and not Mao Tse Tung's

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz is seeing red over the recent detention of Bar Council volunteers as they were distributing leaflets on legal awareness last weekend.

"I'm very unhappy with it. I don't have the facts before me of what really happened or why they were detained, but it's not right.

"I don't understand why they were detained if they were just distributing the constitution," he told Malaysiakini yesteday.

He was responding to the Sunday incident when a group of four legal aid volunteers were detained by police as they were distributing the Bar Council's "Red Book: Police and Your Basic Rights" at Bukit Jalil and briefly held at the Puchong Police Station.

NONE"This is certainly a curb on the freedom of expression and actions by ordinary citizens," said Nazri (left), who is also de facto Law Minister.

"We are not a police state. There shouldn't be any unlawful detention. Only hold someone if they are suspected of having broken laws, but don't simply detain people like that," he said.

The "Red Book" - incidentally launched by Nazri himself in 2006 - provides information on a person's basic rights when stopped, arrested or questioned by police.

The two lawyers and two chambering students were detained when they were handing out the copies to mark the start of the National Law Awareness Week. Their booklets were subsequently returned to them.

Action by overzealous police

But Nazri, who is also in charge of parliamentary affairs for the BN, denied that there is a growing intolerance for lawyers on the part of the police.

"I don't know if there is a deep-seated hatred between police and lawyers. I believe that (the detention) was just the act of overzealous and overenthusiastic personnel.

NONE"But it shouldn't be read as they having been instructed to do that. I don't think there is a standing instruction for police to attack lawyers," he said.

Incidentally, 1Malaysia Youth Graduands Club (Kelab Belia Graduan 1Malaysia) lodged a police report early last month over the Bar Council's distribution of the MyConstitution leaflets.

Despite that, Nazri attributed the lodging of police reports to the growing awareness of the people in exercising their rights.

"If you want your rights, you don't curb other people's right to make a police report. That's their freedom.

"If I support the freedom for the Bar Council to distribute their leaflets, why should I say no to other people who don't support them? It's not intolerance," he said.

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