02 December 2011

PAS takes gov't to court over Assembly Law...

NONEPAS has filed a judicial review seeking a declaration that the prime minister and the federal government abused their powers in tabling the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, which it claims is unconstitutional.

The three applicants - PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli and central committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad - are also seeking a restraining order to stop the respondents from allowing the Bill to be passed at the Dewan Negara.

As an alternative to the restraining order, the trio are also seeking a court order to compel the respondents to either withdraw the Bill or make amendments to the Bill, in line with the Federal Constitution.

Contrary to national charter

"My clients are filing this application because although the (prime minister and the government) had executive powers, their actions are not in line with the supremacy of the constitution," said their lawyer Hanipa Maidin at a press conference after filing the application.

In today’s application six objections to the Bill were listed including the wide powers of the police to impose restrictions which the applicants say would render the constitutional right to peaceful assembly redundant and meaningless.

Several other objections deal with the limits of parliamentary power to restrict public assemblies, which is limited by Article 10(2)(b) of the constitution to reasons related to public order and national security only.

Hence, the applicants argued, it is unconstitutional for the Bill to restrict the right to peaceful assembly under Article 10(1)(b) of the charter on the grounds of other person's interests, whether there is another assembly at the same time and place, and to ban street assemblies outright.

Another objection the restriction of those below 21 from organising public assemblies, and those under 15 from participating in any public assembly, which the applicants say did not account for the fact that they were Malaysian citizens with the right to "assembly peaceably and without arms".

The KL High Court has yet to decide the mention date for the case.

Meanwhile, Mohamad cautioned that even though the prime minister's speech on the Bill was good, his aspirations were not reflected in the Bill.

He then referred to the Internal Security Act (ISA) as a example, where "the speech of the Home Minister at the time said ISA would be used against communist insurgents and those involved in armed conflicts, but this was not written into the Act.

"Instead, the wording of the law targeted anyone who is considered a threat to national security and economy. Therefore, the law was misused to detain anyone who is seen as a threat to the rulers," he said.

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