|Report by BC monitoring team on the public rally held on 9 July 2011 in Kuala Lumpur|
|Tuesday, 12 July 2011 05:06pm|
The Malaysian Bar supports and defends the right to assemble peaceably. The right to freedom of assembly and expression is enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. This is a fundamental feature of democracy, contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), which was adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly. Malaya in 1957, and Malaysia in 1963, embraced and accepted the UDHR when it was admitted to the United Nations.
The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (headed by Tun Mohd Dzaiddin), which reported in May 2005, recommended to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong that section 27 of the Police Act 1967 – requiring a permit for a public rally – be abolished. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, SUHAKAM, has made a similar recommendation to the Government on several occasions.
After the BERSIH 2.0 coalition, Perkasa and Umno Youth announced that they would organise public rallies on 9 July 2011, Bar Council (“BC”), consistent with its past practice, set up a monitoring team to monitor the main BERSIH 2.0 rally. The objective of the BC monitoring team was to observe whether all parties – including participants and organisers of the rally – exercised the right to freedom of assembly and expression in a peaceful manner, and whether law enforcement officials discharged their duty to uphold and protect the exercise of such right.
About 100 Members of the Bar and pupils-in-chambers, including the Office Bearers of the Malaysian Bar, volunteered to be part of the monitoring team, which was coordinated by Siti Zabedah Kasim and Seira Sacha Abu Bakar, members of the BC Human Rights Committee (“BCHRC”). The monitors donned chamber attire and wore a “Pemerhati” tag while on duty. They were divided into four teams, headed by two or three team leaders who were BCHRC members with prior monitoring experience.
The outcome of the monitoring exercise demonstrates that people in Malaysia are mature and peace-loving when championing a cause they believe in. The rally participants generally behaved in a peaceful and calm manner; most importantly, we witnessed that people from a wide variety of backgrounds and from across Malaysia participated in the rally without any conflict. This is contrary to the fear of possible racial disharmony or riots, expressed by certain irresponsible public figures.
The four teams were placed at four main points in central Kuala Lumpur, namely Masjid Negara, Masjid Jamek, Puduraya bus station and Stadium Merdeka.
Based on the observations by the BC monitoring teams, Bar Council makes the following recommendations to the Malaysian Government:
The Malaysian Bar expresses appreciation to the Inspector General of Police (“IGP”), Tan Sri Hj Ismail Omar, for allowing our monitoring teams to observe the public rally and for acknowledging our impartiality in conducting this monitoring exercise. We thank the Polis DiRaja Malaysia for the co-operation rendered to our monitors in carrying out their duties without fear and favour.
Lim Chee Wee
12 July 2011
Please click here to view the full report (with appendices)