26 November 2011

Peaceful Assembly Bill - see you in court...

Pressure opposing the Peaceful Assembly Bill introduced in Parliament on Tuesday continues to mount, with PAS slated to file a judicial review application in an attempt to block Parliament from passing the legislation.

PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and lawmakers Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (Kuala Krai) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor) will be plaintiffs in what will be a test case. Mat Sabu said the Peaceful Assembly bill prohibits the right to assemble and hold street demonstrations.

"The reasoning employed by the Barisan Nasional government is illogical as almost every week Umno has a street protest in Penang and yet it does not affect investments in Penang, for it is still tops among the states in Malaysia," Mat Sabu said.

"So why does the government want to limit such rights by imposing 30 days’ notice to hold a peaceful assembly. Even the Myanmar authorities require only five days and are we Malaysians going to be worse than Myanmar, which is known for its dictatorship," he said.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 was even more repressive than a similar law passed recently in Burma's military-dominated Parliament.

"It is shameful that Burma can propose a far more democratic law than us.

"It is a terrible insult to Malaysians because we were promised more democracy, but now it is the opposite," said Ambiga, who is a former Bar Council president.

At a press conference in Petaling Jaya, Ambiga said Burma's new law allows street demonstrations and organisers only need to notify the authorities five days in advance.

She said this was in stark contrast to Malaysia's Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, which proposes banning street demonstrations and imposing a 30-day notice period.

Putting the numbers together, Bersih secretariat member Wong Chin Huat said Burma was six times more democratic than Malaysia.

Commenting on the stiff fines - between RM10,000 and RM20,000 - proposed in the Bill, Wong said that this was an attempt to stop the poor from joining any protests.

“This is to tell the poor please look at your mortgage first before going to rally.”

The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 has been widely criticised by human rights groups, including the government funded Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), and Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

It was argued that the Bill seeks to provide the police and the home minister with more powers and banning street demonstrations altogether.

The first round on Dewan Rakyat debates on the Bill will kick off on Tuesday.


Myanmar's military-dominated parliament has passed a bill allowing citizens to protest peacefully, a lawmaker said Thursday -- the latest in a rapid series of reformist moves in the isolated country.

The bill, which needs to be signed off by President Thein Sein to become law, requires that demonstrators "inform the authorities five days in advance," said upper house member Aye Maung, of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

Protesters would be allowed to hold flags and party symbols but must avoid government buildings, schools, hospitals and embassies, he told AFP.
Continue reading here.

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