Saturday, November 26, 2011

400 protest 'unconstitutional' bill at KLCC (Malaysiakini) - tonight Dataran Merdeka

 400 protest 'unconstitutional' bill at KLCC

Approximately 400 people gathered at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) Park this afternoon to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill, with police keeping watch from across the fountain without interfering.

Instead, about ten park security personnel roved the periphery of the lively crowd and a man identifying himself as a security supervisor disrupted any attempts at speeches, slogans and press conferences.

malaysian can walk klcc 261111 03
Wong Chin Huat (right, in yellow), who is one of three organisers, responded to the supervisor’s interruptions by cheekily dispersing the gathering into "private gatherings", and referred to the 2pm event as a picnic rather than a protest.

Speaking to reporters at the scene, Wong said the point was to illustrate that public assemblies are banal, everyday occurrences.

"Why the moment you think about the country, it becomes illegal? What's wrong with being patriotic?" he said.

When asked about the
cabinet's announcement today that the bill would be reviewed, social activist and organiser Maria Chin Abdullah said that it was not enough to amend the bill but that it should be dropped completely.

malaysian can walk klcc 261111 08
"Because the bill itself is unconstitutional," she said, before accusing Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of flip-flopping on his promise on Sept 15 to make Malaysia more democratic.
The Peaceful Assembly Bill, if passed, required public assemblies to notifying the police under a set of restrictive conditions.

However, critics argued that the bill's restrictions are still too stringent, in particular the outright prohibition of street protests, and that the 30-day notification period was too long.

Party atmosphere at gathering

The participants, many wearing yellow, distributed chrysanthemums, played with balloons, blew bubbles, and occasionally shouted slogans like "Say no to the bill". They also sang Rasa Sayang and the national anthem.

malaysian can walk klcc 261111 yoga
On the sidelines, a group of about 20 calling themselves the KL People's Assembly - the same group behind Occupy Dataran - was called to order and unanimously voted to oppose the bill before the park security disrupted their activities.

The event officially ended at 2:40pm but hundreds lingered on for over an hour to chat, and one of the participants even held a yoga session.

Other prominent figures who attended included Klang MP Charles Santiago, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party acting president A Vathemurthy, and Seksualiti Merdeka organiser Phang Kee Teik.

The organisers started planning the event just three days ago on Wednesday, the day after the Peaceful Assembly Bill was tabled.

Before dispersing, Wong shouted out invitations to attend
Occupy Dataran tonight at 11pm, the march with the lawyers from Royal Lake Club to Parliament on Tuesday, and to return to KLCC Park for a "picnic" next Saturday, to which the crowd cheered, "Yes!"

No comments: