Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says while the state government does not prevent any protests as it respects the freedom of expression, protestors should observe the law and respect each others’ rights to express their opinions. Pic by MUHAMMAD MIKAIL ONG

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said two groups planning rival protests over Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy’s alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must respect the law.

He said while the state government does not prevent any protests as it respects the freedom of expression, the groups should observe the law and respect each others’ rights to express their opinions.

“We allow freedom of expression as long as there is no fighting and punching,” he told newsmen here.

Chow expressed confidence that police would keep the situation under control.

He was responding to plans by Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGO) to hold a protest to demand Ramasamy’s resignation after Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, Ramasamy’s supporters will hold another demonstration to criticise the allegations against Ramasamy that they insist were false.

A spokesman for the latter, David Marshel, who is president of the Tamilar Kural Malaysia, said they would defend Ramasamy at all costs.

“The allegations against him on numerous issues of late, including on LTTE and controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, are untrue. In fact, he (Ramasamy) is a peace fighter and well respected for his numerous efforts in peace negotiations.

“Even the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has expressed their gratitude to him. Just because he questioned Zakir’s extradition, he is labeled a ‘terrorist’,” he said.

As such, Marshel said they were against any false provocation against Ramasamy.

State police chief Datuk Seri A. Thaiveegan has issued a stern warning against irresponsible individuals who try to stir up and fan disharmony in the state, noting that action will be taken against those trying to spread false-news, rumours and lies that can pose a threat to stability, safety, security and harmony in the state.

In recent weeks, many police reports have been lodged against Ramasamy over the latter’s alleged ties to LTTE.

Muslims in the state had also held a protest last Friday calling for action to be taken against Ramasamy for demanding the extradition of Zakir.

Ramasamy has denied having any links with the LTTE of Sri Lanka.