Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh is in the dark on alleged instructions from the ministry prohibiting students from joining Bersih 5 and red-shirts rallies this Saturday.
"I don't know about it, it may have come from the Higher Education Department," Idris told Malaysiakini when met outside the Parliament lobby today.
However he also said that joining the rallies was not encouraged.
Yesterday, Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia sent out an email to students saying the Higher Education Ministry had issued a circular warning students against participating in "illegal gatherings".
Deputy pro vice-chancellor Beena Giridharan said "appropriate action" would be taken against any students involved in activities defamatory to the university.
Monash University Malaysia also sent out a similar email, which it said was a reminder to students not to participate in illegal activities.
On Tuesday, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia suspended student activist Asheeq Ali (photo) for his involvement in the anti-Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak 'Tangkap MO1' rally in Kuala Lumpur last August.
The Peaceful Assembly Act does away with the need for police permits, but requires organisers to notify authorities 10 days ahead and obtain permission from venue owners.
The right to peaceful assembly is protected under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
Intimidators not protected
However, the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said those holding counter-rallies to intimidate others from peacefully gathering are not protected under Article 10.
This comes after the anti-Bersih red-shirts group said it will hold counter-rallies to confront Bersih on the same day.
Bersih plans to hold its rallies in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu this Saturday.
It is demanding clean elections, clean government, the right to dissent, strengthening of Parliament and empowerment of Sabah and Sarawak.- Mkini