: The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) stopped the debate between former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Culture and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz due to certain security concerns, said Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
He said the decision to prohibit the debate was because it was regarded as unconstitutional and the police had acted within their powers under the law.
"The RMP is merely excercising its powers vested under Section 3(3) of the Police Act 1967, which forms the pillar of policing in accordance to the Federal Constitution," he said in a statement today.
Section 20(3) of the act, conferred the police with discretionary powers to carry out such duties in the interest of the public.
"The decision to stop the debate is made after taking into considerations that if the event is allowed to take the place, it will inevitably create public disorder due to presence of certain security concerns," he said.
He also said this was evidenced by various objections that were raised thus far relating to the proposed debate.
He said when discretion meant denial, it must be understood that the police were exercising its authority and judgement.
"As such, to say that the police have indirectly obstructed freedom of speech is irrational," he said.
Khalid also said that one had to carefully examine and understand the extracts of judgement in the court of appeal in public prosecutor versus R. Yuneswaran based on the quote - "It is settled jurisprudence in public law that rights of one set of citizens cannot overide rights of another".
"It is thus not a question of abuse of powers, but the duty of the police to exercise its discretionary powers, which is done in good faith and the interest of the people," he said.
The planned debate between Dr Mahathir and Nazri at Karangkraf Complex on April 7 has been cancelled in the interest of security and public order.
Selangor deputy police chief, Datuk Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff on Sunday (April 2) said 18 police reports had so far been received from the public who objected to the proposed debate. -- Bernama