KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the decision to prohibit the debate between Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was within the powers of the police.
He said the move was made after taking into consideration concerns that the debate would inevitably lead to public disorder.
"This is evidenced by various objections (raised over) the proposed debate.
"To charge that the police was abusing its powers (in prohibiting the debate) is preposterous, as (we) have facilitated numerous debates prior to this," Khalid said.
The IGP was speaking in response to claims that the cancellation of the debate permit was unconstitutional, and that police acted beyond their powers under the law.
Khalid said that police were merely exercising powers vested under Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967, which forms the pillar of policing in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
"When discretion means denial, it must be understood that police are exercising their authority and judgement, based on evidence of a potential threat to the safety and welfare of the public.
"As such, to say that police have indirectly obstructed freedom of speech is irrational," Khalid said.
The Nazri-Tun Mahathir debate was scheduled to take place at Karangkraf's Sultan Muhammad V Hall in Shah Alam, on April 7.
However, on April 2, the Selangor police said they had revoked the permit for the debate.