KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has described the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, which is being tabled in Parliament, as ‘revolutionary’ and leaps and bounds better than the existing law.
The prime minister said this was proven in a few basic principles provided for in the Bill, one of which was the abolishment of the permit requirement to assemble.
“Another important matter to note is, the new Act will not include a prison sentence, compared to Section 27 of the Police Act 1967. The new penalty will be in the form of a fine,” he said in his speech when tabling the motion to revoke the emergency proclamations in the Dewan Rakyat, here, Thursday.
He said the role of the police would change from granting permission to safeguarding the law and being facilitators with a clearer framework for accountability.
Therefore, he said, the opposition’s allegation that the Bill was ‘strangling’ the basic rights of the people to assemble was completely false.
He said the Bill aimed to ensure that all citizens had the right to organise or participate in assemblies in a peaceful manner and without arms, subject to certain restrictions deemed necessary in the interest of security and public order, as stated in Clause 2 Article 10.
“In any case, the most important reminder to all is that the government rejects any type of street protests,” he stressed.
When tabling the Bill for the second reading, the prime minister said in formulating the Peaceful Assembly Bill, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had studied and referred to several legal provisions from countries such as Australia, Finland, the United Kingdom and Malta, before it was drafted.
The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 comprises six parts and contains 27 Clauses.
Clause 4 prohibits non-citizens from organising and participating in assemblies, assemblies in prohibited places and within 50 metres from the prohibited places and any street protest whatsoever.
The Clause also provides that only a person of 21 years and above can organise and participate in assemblies.
Individuals who recruit or bring children to an assembly or allow children to attend an assembly commits an offence which carries a fine of not exceeding RM20,000 upon conviction.
Clause 8 states that a police officer may take such measures as he deems necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of an assembly in accordance with this Act and any other law.
Clause 9 requires the organiser to notify the officer in charge of the police district in which the assembly is to be held, within 30 days before the date of the assembly.
Anyone who contravenes this requirement is liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000 upon conviction.
Clause 15 empowers the officer in charge of the police district to impose restrictions and conditions on an assembly for the purpose of security, public order or to protect the rights and freedom of other persons.
Anyone who contravenes these restrictions and conditions is liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000 upon conviction.
Clause 20 empowers a police officer to arrest without a warrant any organiser or participant who refuses or fails to comply with such restrictions and conditions.
However, the officer shall take the necessary measures to ensure voluntary compliance before exercising the power of arrest.
Clause 25 gives the Home Minister the power to designate places of assembly while Clauses 26 and 27 allow the minister to amend schedules and make regulations for the better implementation of the provisions of the Act.
Source : Bernama