“Anyone in the right mind will know that the Bill is preventive or is to restrict any form of peaceful gathering in the country,” said the bureau's Hanipa Maidin.
According to Hanipa, by calling it the ‘Peaceful Assembly Bill’ when it in effect bans peaceful assembles, UMNO was just employing its age-old tactic of duping the public into believing that reforms were on the way.
“The new act is thousand times worse from its predecessor (Police Act 1967),” he stressed, echoing other Pakatan Rakyat leaders.
More powers to cops
The Bill tabled yesterday will allow the police to have more powers, particularly in imposing restrictions and setting up conditions to hold a gathering, such as the date and duration of the event, venue, participants' conduct and cleaning-up cost post-assembly.
The police have also been accorded wider powers which involved their final say on cultural or religious sensitivity as well as historical significance of proposed assembly venue. The police can also cite objections of persons who have interests in the assembly.
A central contention in the Bill lies in the fact that it lists scores of places where assemblies are banned within a 50-metre radius. They include dams, reservoirs, water catchment areas, water treatment plants, petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, train stations, public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, wharves, piers, bridges, marinas, all places of worship, kindergartens and schools.
Hanipa said plans were underway to challenge the new bill in court as it cannot be approved as an act.
“We the PAS lawyers are officially launching a war against this tyrannical act through existing laws,” he said, while stressing that the new bill violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution on right to assembly.
He further charged that the bill could have been the culmination of the government's disappointment over the Attorney General’s repeated failures in punishing participants of 'illegal' assemblies in the past.
“There is little doubt the new act will hasten the demise of UMNO-BN government,” he added.
Akta Perhimpunan Aman percepat ajal Umno BN