Groups holding peaceful gatherings will no longer be required to obtain police permits under the Peaceful Assembly Bill to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
Sources said the bill contained provisions on venues, such as stadiums, in ensuring no disturbance to public order.
The proposed legislation is comparable to international practices. They said laws of the United Kingdom, the United States, certain states in Australia, Hong Kong and
South Africa were among those studied in the drafting stage.
The New Straits Times was told that police could intervene and ask the crowd to disperse should there be any complaints of disruption of the peace by a third party, such as an owner of a house near the gathering area.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the cabinet approved the tabling of the bill at its meeting last Friday.
He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was expected to table the bill at the Dewan Rakyat.
Speaking to reporters after officiating at a mass circumcision ceremony in Kampung Paya Lintah, Padang Rengas, Perak, yesterday, Nazri said: “The parliamentary debate
will continue on Nov 29 and 30, and subsequent dates, according to schedule.”
Dec 1 is the last day of the current meeting of the Dewan Rakyat.
The bill stems from a host of reforms outlined by the prime minister in his Malaysia Day address on Sept 15.
He had said the government would review Section 27 of the Police Act by taking into account Article 10 of the Federal Constitution that relates to freedom of speech, expression, assembly and association.
Section 27 of the Police Act relates to police permit requirement in order to regulate assemblies, meetings and processions.
Najib’s Malaysia Day announcement also included the repeal of the Internal Security Act as well as removing the requirement for print media to renew their annual permits.
Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said the proposed bill would bode well for the country and improve its domestic and international standing. He said the attorney-general had consulted the council on the matter.
While not disclosing the provisions of the act, Lim said the proposed legislation was consistent with international best practices which recognises, protects, enforces and promotes freedom of assembly.
He praised the government for its inclusiveness.
“It is a step in the right direction towards transforming the nation into a progressive and liberal country.”
He said the bill would minimise disruption to the local communities, adding that Malaysians were generally peaceful.
Source : New Straits Times