KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 24, 2011): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak tabled the Peaceful Assembly Bill for second reading today despite a call by opposition parties and several non-governmental organisations for it to be withdrawn.
The bill, to be debated on Tuesday, is an extension to Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, taking into consideration Article 10 of the Federal Constitution on the right to assemble and putting a stop to street demonstrations.
“Although Articles 10(1)(b) and (2)(b) do not specify clearly on the rights and freedom of others in restricting assemblies, their rights must be taken into consideration for the sake of federal security and public peace,” Najib said.
The rights and freedom of others include the right to enjoy one’s property, right to freedom of movement, right to enjoy nature and the right to conduct business.
Najib said the government had studied the Police Act and the new bill allows the right to assemble in accordance with methods to be decided later, while taking into account international norms.
He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had studied the constitution, other related Malaysian laws and legislations in other countries.
Among others, they are the Peaceful Assembly Act 1992 (Queensland, Australia), Public Order Act 1986 (United Kingdom), Assembly Act 2008 (Germany), Public Meetings Ordinance (Moldova) and Public Assemblies, Parades and Protest Bill (Northern Ireland).
“The bill regulates assemblies held in public places, whether they are static or moving. They are governed by restrictions needed or expedient to a democratic society for public safety and order, including protecting the rights and freedoms of others,” he said.
Earlier, while tabling the motion to revoke the three Emergency Proclamations, Najib said the bill abolishes the rule to obtain a police permit to hold assemblies.
“One important point is that there is no incarceration term, unlike the provisions in the Police Act. The only punishment that will be posed is in the form of fine,” Najib said.
However, the opposition has described the bill as being “more suppressive and oppressive”.
In Bandar Baru, Kedah, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the opposition will not be satisfied with moves made by the federal government for a political transformation process.
He told a press conference after attending a 1Malaysia public gathering in Serdang here that the legislation would allow demonstrations to take place, with regulations provided for participants to adhere to.
“People are not comfortable with the opposition’s behaviour, especially in things like street demonstrations,” he said.
On the decision to amend the Universities and University Colleges Act 1974 to enable students to join political parties when they are 21 years old, Muhyiddin said the move showed the maturity of the Barisan Nasional government.
Source : The Sun Daily