LIM GUAN ENG
The new law does not even state the number of people that constitute an assembly. It is going to be the instrument of oppression against the people.
Under the law, the fine is a maximum of RM20,000 now. Rallies and protests should be held 50 metres away from places of worship, hospitals and other public places. It is more restrictive than the existing laws that govern assemblies. There are mosques, temples, churches, hospitals and clinics all over the place. So we can’t gather anywhere in Malaysia.
The way it is going, we can only protest in the jungle!
Such assemblies are organised to express grouses. In Penang, there are at least two to three protests every month. Although some of them are racist in nature, they are still peaceful. So we do not prevent them from expressing their grouses. We just have to listen to what they have to say.
The Federal government has failed to stop the rot of wrongdoing, abuses of power and financial malpractices over the last 54 years. Only a change of government can bring about the transformation for good to win over bad.
LIM KIT SIANG
The mirage created by Najib that he wants to make Malaysia “the best democracy in the world” lasted only two months as the repeal of Section 27 of the Police Act requiring police permits for any gathering of three or more persons is now replaced by a more undemocratic and repressive Peaceful Assembly Act, violating the constitutional right of Malaysians to freedom of assembly.
In many respects, the Peaceful Assembly Act is even more restrictive and repressive than Section 27 of the Police Act. Under the new law, for instance, a person can be fined up to RM20,000 as compared to RM10,000 under the Police Act.
In banning “street protests”, restricting assemblies from “prohibited places” or “within fifty metres from the limit of the prohibited place”, requiring notice of 30 days for an assembly to be held as well as empowering the police which is a total stranger to the concept of “democratic policing” to impose arbitrary restrictions and conditions for an assembly, the fundamental constitutional right of freedom to assembly runs the risk of being grounded to ashes.
The Prime Minister should withdraw the Peaceful Assembly Act in its present form to remove the undemocratic features to ensure that the new law does not end up as a more undemocratic and repressive substitute for Section 27 of the Police Act.
Further – given this legislative development and the BN government’s consistent breach of international conventions, covenants, and fundamental principles of human rights – Malaysia’s membership in the United Nation’s Human Rights Council serves only as an embarrassment to the UN body.
The promised national reforms by the federal government have not been visibly introduced and a conservative, manipulative, and autocratic regime still leads our forward-thinking citizens while ruining the reputation of our developing nation and diminishing the vast economic prospects available to the country.
The Act’s requirements of a 30-day notice for a gathering of citizens, alongside other unreasonable restrictions such as a ban on street assemblies and gatherings outside places of worship, are just plain preposterous proposals by the government.
The organising of impromptu assemblies, especially to raise objections and concerns on pressing public issues, is curtailed by a need for a lengthy notice-period and thereafter the ability of the police to stop such protests arbitrarily. This is unconstitutional to say the least.
While acknowledging the government’s intention to do away with the need for police permit applications for an assembly (via planned amendments to the Police Act), it is evident that the Peaceful Assembly Act places continued unchecked and unyielding power in the hands of the police.
The Act is as well introduced at a time when BN’s political opponents, especially the Pakatan Rakyat, have gained ground in successfully representing and meeting the needs of Malaysians; particularly within the states it governs.
The Prime Minister, it seems, is worried about BN’s ability to continue to govern the country given that Pakatan Rakyat is a reliable alternative and growing as the preferred choice among the people to represent them.
It further appears that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is running scared of an irked society who have shown a keenness and the ability to mobilise themselves in the face of an inept government.
The BN government has had over 5 decades to prove itself worthy of being the chosen administrators of the country. However, it continues to fail miserably to govern the nation via means that uphold rights, freedoms, and justice. It further denies Malaysians the ability to develop as a society that is rooted in a demonstratively liberal and functioning democracy.
Democracy spells ‘people power’. However, the above draconian Act merely spells it as ‘people powerless’. The BN government indeed intends to turn the nation into a police state.
Malaysians need to decide, come the time, if they truly want to retain a government that curbs the rakyat’s freedoms, tramples on their basic rights, insults their intelligence, and mismanages the economy by blowing away the taxes of their hard-earned incomes.
Or should we choose to move the nation forward with leaders who believe in – and uphold – the freedoms and rights of the rakyat. -The Rocket
Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin