Saturday, November 26, 2011
November 26, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Almost 300 people gathered in a quiet corner of Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Park today to protest the Peaceful Assembly Bill.
The mostly Chinese crowd wore yellow clothes and carried yellow balloons and flowers to show their opposition to the “draconian” Bill, which was tabled two days ago in Parliament.
They were joined by Bersih steering committee members Maria Chin Abdullah and Wong Chin Huat, as well as Klang MP Charles Santiago, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party acting president A. Vathemurthy and Teoh Beng Hock’s sister, Teoh Lee Lian.
The half-hour demonstration was organised by the Freedom to Assemble Campaign, a coalition of over 30 NGOs.
Wong said it was “completely ridiculous” for Malaysians who wished to assemble to discuss matters in the interests of the nation to have to apply for permission 30 days in advance.
“The entire point is why one, two, three four becomes illegal. We go to pasar malam often more than four people...
“Why the moment you think about the country it becomes illegal? What’s wrong with being patriotic? What’s wrong with a government that thinks a citizen being patriotic is criminal?” he said.
Wong said he hoped the government would see that a majority of Malaysians were not in favour of such restrictions, and urged authorities to “move to our side”.
Maria added that the government must drop the Bill and not just amend it as the proposed law was unacceptable.
“The Bill itself is unconstitutional. The Bill is stifling, a rollback in terms of what Najib envisages as a democratic country,” she said.
The peaceful protest ended at 2.45pm with a rendition of “Rasa Sayang” and the national anthem after KLCC security personnel requested that the crowd disperse.
Putrajaya has agreed to amend seven sections in the Peaceful Assembly Bill following nationwide protests criticising it as more repressive than current laws.
According to Star Online, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz confirmed today that the Cabinet had reached the decision during its meeting yesterday.
Nazri said the Cabinet decided to amend the Bill following protests from civil rights groups and opposition lawmakers.
Among others, he said the 30-day advance notice to hold an assembly will be shortened to 10 days.
The provision has been criticised by civil society groups and opposition lawmakers as restrictive, particularly after Myanmar, known for its poor human rights record, passed a similar law earlier this week stipulating only five days’ notice to hold a protest.
The Peaceful Assembly Bill was mooted by the Najib administration as part of its Malaysia Day promises to foster greater democracy and promote civil liberties. - Malaysian Insider, 26/11/2011, NGOs protest Peaceful Assembly Bill in KLCC park