THE Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 is a revolutionary step taken by the government to improve individual rights, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.
He dismissed opposition claims that the bill was repressive and pointed out that responsibilities of the police were outlined in detail and the action to be taken against those who went against the law were reduced to fines instead of jail sentences.
“We are aware that no matter how noble the government’s intentions are, the opposition will still object. That the law is restrictive and will not allow for the freedom of assembly is not true at all,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat when tabling a motion to annul three emergency proclamations.
Najib said provisions under the bill prohibited police from stopping any peaceful assembly from taking place if it was done in accordance with the law.
He added that people would only be barred from holding gatherings at areas prohibited under the law, such as hospitals, schools and places of worship.
He also said should any assembly require the provision of notice to the authorities, a reasonable time frame would be given to the authorities to respond.
“And if the response is not given within the time frame, the assembly can proceed under the protection of the law.
“This is enough proof that the opposition’s allegations are not true.”
Najib also stressed that the government was committed to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which stated that every citizen had the right to assemble peacefully without the use of weapons.
However, Najib said it was also the responsibility of the government to ensure that security and public peace was protected.
“We are not only looking at the rights to assemble but also at the rights of those who want freedom and peace to continue with their lives.”
Source : New Straits Times