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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Front Line Defenders:- Malaysia – New assembly law will violate the legitimate right of human rights defenders to peaceful assembly

The Malaysian government can at any time withdraw this Bill, and prevent it from becoming law. The Malaysian Senate is also filled with Barisan Nasional appointed Senators, and they like the Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament also generally do not have the independence or the guts to reject a Bill that is being tabled by the Barisan Nasional government...Even, if the government do withdraw this Peaceful Assembly Bill, they can always re-table a Bill at a later date... The option thus lies with the government...






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30 November 2011

Re: Malaysia – New assembly law will violate the legitimate right of human rights defenders to peaceful assembly 
 
On 29 November 2011, the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament approved a Peaceful Assembly Bill. This Bill will severely effect the right of human rights defenders (HRDs) to exercise peaceful assembly to campaign for human rights. The Bill will be reviewed by the Senate on 7 December 2011. 
 
HRDs in Malaysia have been subjected to violence when they exercise their rights to peaceful assembly to raise public concerns on human rights. Front Line has issued a number of urgent appeals on behalf of HRDs whose right to peaceful assembly were violated, including the raid on the secretariat of Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) and the brief detention of their staff prior to the peaceful assembly that the coalition was holding.

In July 2011, Front Line issued an urgent appeal after Malaysian authorities banned fifteen prominent human rights leaders from entering Kuala Lumpur during the time of a demonstration. During a mission to the country in July-August 2011, a Front Line representative witnessed the direct intimidation and harassment of HRDs by riot police and special branch police during a peaceful assembly which called for the release of individuals who were subjected to arbitrarily detention under the Emergency Ordinance.

According to the Bill, street protests will be outlawed. Organisers are obliged to inform authorities 10 days prior to the dates on which the assembly will be held. It is reported that the Bill also gives ultimate power to police and the Ministry of Home Affairs to authorise peaceful demonstrations. The police will have the power to impose conditions, including date, time, and the venue of the assembly.

Front Line is also informed that under the law no one under the age of 21 will be permitted to organise an assembly, while persons under the age of 15 will not be allowed to participate in peaceful assemblies. The police will be allowed to fine the organiser up to RM 10,000 (€ 23,733) if they receive no advance notice of a planned assembly. In addition, the police will be allowed to fine those arrested for organising an unauthorised assembly a maximum of RM 20,000 (€ 47,465). 
 
Front Line is concerned by the lack of transparency in the process of drafting this Bill as the draft Bill was only made known to the public last week, while the version which will be reviewed by the Senate has not yet been released to HRDs. Front Line is alarmed that the law will further restrict the rights of HRDs in Malaysia to peacefully assemble. Front Line considers that the components making up the the law are contradictory to Article 10 (1) (b) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention to the Rights of the Child which Malaysia is a party to. 
 
Front Line urges the authorities in Malaysia to:
  1. Extend the review process by the Senate by at least three months to ensure proper scrutiny of the Peaceful Assembly Bill in order to ensure that it conforms with international human rights standards
     
  2. Hold proper consultations with human rights defenders and organisations and seriously take their concerns into account;

  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisations in Malaysia are free to carry out their legitimate activities in defending and protecting the rights of others, without fear of reprisals and free of all undue restrictions.

There wouldn't have been time to even do a peaceful protest - because the Freedom Assembly was passed so fast

The Malaysian Barisan Nasional government tabled the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, I believe on 22/11/2011, and despite protest including by the Bar Council who also had the 'Freedom Walk" on on 29/11/2011, the government hurriedly amended and passed the said Bill on the 29th itself. It may be of interest to see the Alternative Bill that was proposed by the Bar Council...

This was a Bill introduced and passed so quickly, that even under the provisions of the said new Bill which requires 30 days (now 10 days) notification to the police before a peaceful assembly could be carried out would NOT have worked - for the Bill would have been passed even before permission could have been given for a peaceful assembly - that is the best example of the absurdity of this PA Bill - and why it must immediately be withdrawn and  not made into law...



Bar Council's Alternative Assembly Bill
The Bar Council has proposed a Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 (“the proposed Act’), which it says takes a significantly different approaches from the Bill drafted by the government.

According to the council, the differences in the policies and principles include:

The government’s Bill approaches the right of peaceful assembly from a very limited and restrictive stand point that does not accord with international norms, the current rapid developments around the world on such fundamental rights, as well as the aspirations of the Malaysians.

klcc walk for freedom of assembly crowdOn the other hand, the Bar Council’s draft Bill approaches the matter with an understanding of the urgent need to change the mindset of how such matter has been dealt with by the authorities in the past half a century, and the democratic necessity to fulfill the Rakyat’s growing expectations of greater fundamental liberties in line with international practices and developments.

NONEThe Bar Council’s draft Bill is intended to promote and facilitiate the freedom of the right of peaceful assembly, whereas the government’s Bill, while providing small improvements in certain limited aspects, continues to constrict the space for freedom of peaceful assembly that the people ought to have.
In some aspects, such as the total prohibition of street protest, the government’s Bill contains conditions or restrictions which are not currently expressly provided for.

The Bar Council’s draft Bill complies with international conventions and norms, whereas the government’s Bill does not.

For instance, the government’s Bill prohibits assemblies in motion (processions or street protests) which no other progressive jurisdiction does.
NONEThe governement’s Bill vests excessive powers and control with the police whilst imposing onerous duties and responsibilities on organisers and participants of public assemblies.

The Bar Council’s draft Bill takes into account the internationally accepted principle that the exercise of the right of peaceful assembly is part of “public order”, whereas the government’s Bill appears to view such exercise of fundamental right as antagonistic to public order.

The government’s Bill continues to retain the unacceptable practice of allowing the police to be its own judge and jury on matters relating to freedom of assembly. On the other hand, the Bar Council’s draft Bill has removed this unacceptable practice, by the creation of an independant Peaceful Assembly Board.

Extracts of the Bar Council’s Alternative Peaceful Assembly Bill
An Act relating to the promotion and facilitation of the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, to provide necessary and reasonable conditions relating to such right in the interest of public safety or public order, including giving due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons, and to provide for related matters.
Objects
2. The objects of this Act are –

bersih rally petaling street 090711(a) to reaffirm, promote and facilitate the right of peaceful assembly for all persons; and
(b) to ensure that persons may exercise the right to participate in public assemblies free from unnecessary or unreasonable conditions, restrictions or hindrance; and
(c) to ensure that the exercise of the right to participate in public assemblies is subject only to such restrictions as are necessary and reasonable in a democratic society in the interests of –
(i) public safety; or
(ii) public order; or
(iii) the giving of due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons; and
(d) to ensure that the right of persons to participate in public assemblies may be exercised without payment of a fee, charge or other amount for a licence, permit or other authorisation.

Right to organise and participate in public assembly
5. (1) Everyone has the right to organise a public assembly, and the right to participate in a public assembly peaceably and without arms; provided that the right to organise a public assembly shall not extend to a person below the age of 18 years unless it is a religious, social, educational, family or cultural assembly.

NONE(2) The right to organise a public assembly and the right to participate in a public assembly peaceably and without arms are subject only to such conditions and restrictions as are necessary and reasonable in a democratic society in the interest of –
(a) public safety; or
(b) public order; or
(c) the giving of due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons.

Legal immunity for participant in public assembly
6. A person who participates in a public assembly does not, merely because of his peaceful participation, incur any civil or criminal liability.

Assembly notice
7. (1) When a public assembly is to be held, the organiser shall notify the OCPD of the same in writing at least 5 days before the assembly.

(2) No assembly notice is required to be given for a public assembly where it is not possible or reasonably practical to do so, or in respect of an election campaign.

(3) Where an assembly notice is to be given to the OCPD, it may be done by leaving it at, or by delivering it to, the appropriate police station. Any police officer receiving an assembly notice shall state on the organiser’s copy of the assembly notice the date and time of receipt of such notice, failing which the organiser or the person serving the notice shall be entitled to state the same.

Formalities and contents of assembly notice
bersih rally petaling street 0907118. (1) An assembly notice must –
(a) be in writing; and
(b) be addressed to the OCPD; and
(c) be signed by the organiser or a representative of the organiser.
(2) Where an assembly notice is required to be given, it must contain the following particulars –
(a) the name and address of the organiser and his representative or representatives who must be reachable in the communication of all matters relating to the public assembly; and
(b) the local address for service, e-mail address and mobile telephone number of the organiser and his representative or representatives; and
(c) the day on which the public assembly is to be held; and
(d) the place at which the public assembly is to be held; and
(e) the time at which the participants are likely to assemble to participate in the public assembly; and
(f) the times at which the public assembly will likely commence and end; and
(g) if the public assembly is a procession –
(i) the proposed route of the procession; and
(ii) any place at which the procession is likely to stop; and
(iii) the length of time the procession is likely to remain at each such place; and
(h) the expected number of participants; and
(i) the purpose of the public assembly; and
(j) the expected number of persons to be appointed by the organiser to assist in maintaining order in the public assembly; and
(k) a description of any sound amplification or audio visual equipment proposed to be used by the organiser during the public assembly.

Procedural compliance
9. (1) Where an assembly notice is required to be given, a public assembly is taken to have complied with the requirements under this Act if, after the giving of the assembly notice –
(a) an acknowledgement notice of the public assembly is received by the organiser of the public assembly from the OCPD or his representative; or
(b) no acknowledgment notice of the public assembly is received by the organiser, and no order of the Board made under section 18 prohibiting the holding of the public assembly is received by or communicated to the organiser, before the holding of the public assembly.

NONE(2) No assembly notice is required to be given in respect of any of the following –
(a) a private assembly; or
(b) a public assembly falling under section 7(2); or
(c) an election campaign; or
(d) a public assembly falling under the First Schedule.

Acknowledgment notice may specify certain conditions
11. (1) The OCPD may, in an acknowledgment notice given under section 9(1)(a), specify conditions relating to the holding of the public assembly. An acknowledgment notice containing conditions must be served on the organiser or his representative within 48 hours of the receipt by the OCPD of the assembly notice, at the address for service stated in the assembly notice.

NONE(2) Except where the organiser has (through consultation or negotiation) agreed in writing to a condition, a condition may not be specified by the OCPD unless –

(a) it is consistent with the objects and spirit of this Act; and
(b) it concerns one of the matters stipulated in subsection (3); and
(c) it is non-arbitrary and does not give rise to any unequal treatment between different organisers or groups of organisers; and
(d) the negotiations required by subsection (4) have been held.

(3) A condition specified by the OCPD must necessarily and reasonably relate to a significant matter concerning –
(a) public safety; or
(b) public order; or
(c) the giving of due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2)(d), the OCPD shall forthwith and expeditiously negotiate with the organiser to reach an agreement, where possible, before specifying any condition.

(5) For the purposes of this Act, the expression “public order” relates to the sum of rules which ensure the functioning of a democratic society, and the set of fundamental principles on which a democratic society is founded. Respect for human rights and constitutional rights, including the right of freedom of expression and the right to assemble peaceably, is a part of public order.

(6) For the purposes of this Act, “public safety” relates to protection
against danger to the safety of persons, or against serious damage to their property.

(7) Any organiser dissatisfied with a condition specified by the OCPD may forthwith make an application in writing to the Board to revoke or vary such condition.

Application to prohibit public assembly
12. If an assembly notice is given to the OCPD in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the OCPD may apply in writing, within 48 hours of the receipt of the assembly notice, to the Board for an order that the proposed public assembly be prohibited, stating in sufficient detail the reasons for his application; and shall forthwith notify the organiser regarding such application.

Restrictions affecting application to prohibit public assembly
13. The OCPD is not entitled to apply under section 12 for an order from the Board unless –

NONE(1) the OCPD has in good faith given due regard to the objects and spirit of this Act; and

(2) the OCPD has formed the opinion, on reasonable and disclosed written grounds, that if the public assembly were to be held –
(a) there will be real and serious risk to public safety; or
(b) serious public disorder will likely happen; or
(c) there will likely be excessive and prolonged interference with the rights or freedoms of other persons; and

(3) the OCPD has negotiated with the organiser, but failed to achieve an agreement on the matter.

Simultaneous assemblies
14. (1) If two public assemblies are notified to be held in the same place at the same time and date (or approximately the same time and date), and their simultaneous arrangement is not possible, the organiser who first submitted his assembly notice shall have precedence, unless the place of assembly is traditionally to be used by the other organiser on that date. In this event, the OCPD shall, after consulting with the other organiser, move the other public assembly to be held at another time or to another place that is suitable having regard to the purpose of the other public assembly.
(2) If more than two public assemblies are notified to be held in the same place at the same time and date (or approximately the same time and date), the foregoing provisions shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Counter assemblies
15. If, after receiving an assembly notice for a public assembly, the OCPD receives an assembly notice for a counter public assembly, and it is evident that the counter public assembly will result in conflict between the participants of the two public assemblies at the place of assembly (of a nature that is likely to disrupt public order or endanger public safety), the OCPD shall propose an alternative for the counter public assembly to be organised at another time, date or place.

Establishment of a Peaceful Assembly Board

16. (1) There shall be established a body to be known as the Peaceful Assembly Board (in this Act referred to as “the Board”).

(2) It shall be the duty of the Board –
(a) to hear any application from the OCPD or the organiser; and
(b) to promote greater understanding by the general public of issues concerning peaceful public assembly; and
(c) to ensure uniformity of treatment of different organisers or different groups of organisers; and
(d) to keep itself generally informed as to the conduct of public
assemblies.

(3) The Board shall comprise a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and 23 other members. The 25 members of the Board shall be appointed as follows –
(a) 5 members by the Prime Minister; and
(b) 5 members by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament; and
(c) 5 members by SUHAKAM; and
(d) 5 members by the Chief Justice of Malaysia; and
(e) 5 members by the President of the Malaysian Bar.

(4) The term of each member of the Board shall be for a period of 2 years but he or she may be reappointed.

(5) No member of the Board shall be appointed from the public service or the judiciary.

(6) Any vacancy on the Board howsoever arising shall be filled by a person appointed by the same appointing body or person specified in subsection (3) who had made the earlier appointment in respect of which the vacancy has arisen.

Duties of the police at a public assembly
19. A police officer on duty at a public assembly –
(1) shall have a duty to take appropriate measures to enable the public assembly to take place and conclude peacefully, and at all times uphold the objects and spirit of this Act; and

(2) shall be uniformed; and

(3) may only issue an order to disperse if there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is real and imminent danger to public safety, or significant and prolonged interference with public order; and

(4) in exercising the power to disperse a public assembly, may only use reasonable and proportionate force and may do so only after reasonable and sufficient time and opportunity have been given to the participants to disperse voluntarily and peaceably; and

(5) may make any form of audio or visual recording of a public assembly, and shall not prevent, obstruct or restrict any other person from doing the same.

Presence of police at private assemblies
20. No police officer (whether uniformed or otherwise) shall be present at, attend, observe or participate in a private assembly, meeting or event, unless invited or allowed to do so by the organiser of such private assembly, meeting or event.

Role of the media
21. The police in discharging their duties in relation to a public assembly shall at all times facilitate the performance by all members of the media of their duties and functions.

Offences

22. (1) An organiser who has wilfully breached a condition lawfully imposed under this Act on a public assembly, or caused another to breach the same, shall be guilty of an offence and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000.00. It is a valid defence under this subsection if the organiser is able to show that he has taken all reasonable and available steps to prevent the commission of the breach, or that the occurrence of the breach was beyond his reasonable control.

(2) A police officer who has wilfully breached a provision of this Act, or a duty imposed on him under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000.00. It is a valid defence under this subsection if the police officer is able to show that he has done everything in his power to prevent the commission of the breach, or that the occurence of the breach was beyond his reasonable control.

Peaceful Assembly Bill tabled 22/11/2011 - passed 29/11/2011 despite protests - Why the rush?

The Peaceful Assembly Bill(PA Bill)  was suddenly tabled on 22/11/2011, and on 29/11/2011 it was passed by the Lower House of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat), despite much public protest...

SEVEN(7) days - not enough time for MPs to consult their constituents - it was just shoved down the throat of Malaysians...
It is still needs to be passed by Senate and receive the King's royal assent...

The new PA Bill just made it impossible for foreign nationals to protest any wrong doing. If there is a wrongdoing in Burma, now the Burmese in Malaysia will not be able to protest... Migrant workers also lose their right to protest ...Children lose their rights to protest despite the fact Malaysia has ratified the Child Rights Convention....

Why did the BN government do this and in this manner without consultations...and despite protests of its people...and this is not the first time it has done this. The same was done for the Employment Act amendments despite protests from workers, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (that represents all workers in Malaysia, and who have over 800,000 members), and 100s of civil society groups not just from Malaysia...

Dictatorship - that is all one can say about the Malaysia's BN government led by Prime Minister Najib Razak....It certainly does not have the elements of Democracy... Control of almost all media, both print and electronic, ensures that only the government position gets to the public....

There is no time for rebuttal...no time for debate...As an example, the PM said no need for notification/permission of police if the peaceful assembly is to be done in 'designated places' - but alas the Act only says that the Minister will fix these designated places later... we do not even have examples of these designated places...There was just no time for even public discussion of the amendments to the Bill - Why? They amended and passed it within hours...


Government amends Assembly Bill
As announced by de facto law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz last Saturday, the government will table amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 during the committee stage of the debate for the Bill in the Dewan Rakyat, later today.

The draft amendments distributed to parliamentarians today includes six specific amendments to four sections which will see reductions in notification, appeals and response periods:


- 30 days notice period reduced to 10 days;
- Police must notify stakeholder within 24 hours of notice by organisers instead of 48 hour as proposed;
- Stakeholders can complain about proposed assembly within 48 hours, from five days previously;
- Police to reply to organisers within five days, as opposed to twelve days previously;
- Appeal to rejection or police discretionary orders to organisers can be done within 48 hours of receipt, from four days mandated prior to the amendments;
-Home Minister to answer any appeals within 48 hours instead of six days originally.

The amendments came in the footsteps of widespread opposition to the proposed Bill and was decided in a cabinet meeting last Friday, after consultations with the Attorney-General's Chamber.


Nazri had told reporters that he will prevail upon Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to waive the notification period for amendments, considering that the Bill is already in its second reading.


Nazri said he will also seek to insert the changes to the Bill in the committee stage later today, after the initial debate which is ongoing now.


Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tabled the Bill for second reading last Thursday, though debate was postponed until today. Parliament will not end today until the Bill and five other minor bills to amend other laws are passed.-
Malaysiakini, 29/11/2011, Government amends Assembly Bill

Done deal - Peaceful Assembly Bill passed

The Dewan Rakyat passed the contentious Peaceful Assembly Bill after less than four hours of debate by six parliamentarians.

azlanThe Bill, which bans street demonstrations but allows regulated assemblies, was passed by voice vote, in the absence of Pakatan Rakyat MPs who had staged  a walkout in the middle of the second reading.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (PKR-Permatang Pauh), Abdul Rahman Dahlan (BN-Kota Belud), Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan), Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang), Ibrahim Ali (IND-Pasir Mas) and P Kamalanathan (BN-Hulu Selangor) had debated the Bill.

Debate began at about 11am and resumed after lunch. The Bill was passed at 4.15pm.

The amendments tabled at committee stage were also passed by voice vote without the presence of Pakatan MPs.

The opposition MPs were absent when Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, wound up on points raised during the debate.

nazri parliament racist antics 060705 01Referring to the opposition’s absence as "cowardice", Nazri (left) said the Bill is not unconstitutional as Section 2(b) of the federal constitution allows Parliament to enact legislation to protect public order and safety.

He also took on the Bar Council, which had marched in protest this morning, for going against the provision calling for advance notice of demonstrations by organisers.

"If (the Bar Council) calls the Bill messed up, then I think their heads are messed up....They don't agree with the provision for advance notice but they gave the police seven days’ notice for their assembly this morning.

NONE"Why did they give notice? They want protection from police for fear of provocation....The provision for advance notice is not to block the assembly but to protect the demonstrators. The Bar Council knows this.”

He said the government had followed a European standard in deciding the length of advance notice, which says it should not be "unnecessarily lengthy but allow adequate time to allow authorities to allow fulfill necessary obligations".

"(The standard was not from) Zimbabwe or (Burma) as claimed by opposition. Europe. If Europe is not good enough then who should we follow? The moon? The stars?" he asked.

Burma's new law on public assembly requires five days’ notice, while the UK requires six days’ notice.

Under an amended provision, Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Bill requires 10 days’ notice.

Bar Council in line of fire

Raging against the Bar Council again, Nazri took on council president Lim Chee Wee who had told the press earlier that the Bill goes against the nation's history of street protests, including that led by Onn Jaafar against the Malayan Union.

"But Lim, that was a colonial government, not one chosen by the people... If you're unhappy then fight it out in an election. Let me tell you than the BN government has been chosen (to form) the government for 12 elections," he said.

Like Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) who had interjected during the debate, Nazri said that if the Bar Council is so brave (anak jantan) then it should register itself as a political party and contest in elections.

azlan
Nazri also said that the opposition has been misleading the rakyat by harping on the maximum fines provided by the Bill for those involved in illegal assemblies.

"The fine is up to RM10,000. Section 27 of the Police Act has a maximum fine of RM10,000 a minimum fine of RM3000.

"This Bill does not state a minimum...so it can be RM1 or RM3. The Bagan MP said the court should decide on an appeal if an application (to assemble) is rejected. He should be consistent.

"How can he support that the court is to decide on this but not allow the court to decide whether to fine up to RM10,000? What is this?"

He added that the Police Act had provided for a jail term upon conviction, but this is not so in the Bill, where the provision has been replaced with a maximum fine of RM20,000 for certain offences.

"The opposition and the NGOs are not ready (to be free), that is why we have this Bill," he added. - Malaysiakini, 29/11/2011,Done deal - Peaceful Assembly Bill passed

The anger of the people is not just about the contents of PA Bill 2011 but also the manner in which it was suddenly, and without notice introduced, and so hurriedly passed despite public protests.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lawyers Walk For Freedom (29/11/2011)









 - some pics from Malaysiakini

More than 1,000 Lawyers begin 'Walk for Freedom'

Lawyers begin 'Walk for Freedom'
 
Members of the Bar Council and supporters are marching to Parliament House from the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, to protest the Peaceful Assembly Bill which is expected to be voted on tonight in the Dewan Rakyat.NONE
Describing the draft law as legislation that would rob the rakyat off their constitutional right, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee has vowed that lawyers cannot watch it enter the statute books without standing up to it.

The crowd exceeding 1,000 began the two-kilometre 'Walk for Freedom' at 12.19pm to submit a memorandum opposing the law.

NONEAction is expected in front of Parliament House as activists have called on the public to gather there for three consecutive days, with effect from 11am in an 'Occupy Parliament' move.

The group - the KL People's Assembly - has been behind the 'Occupy Dataran' movement.
LIVE REPORTS

10.05am: About 40 police personnel, including 10 light strike force officers, are standing by in front of the entrance to Parliament House.
10.38am: Reporters have gathered in front of Royal Lake Club in the Lake Gardens. Several lawyers are in sight.
There is no police presence here, although about 10 were seen earlier at the National Monument, across the street.
NONE10.45am: A member of the Bar Council secretariat tells reporters that the gathering has been shifted to the junction of the road leading to the Royal Lake Club approximately 300m away.
10.56am: Several police patrol cars pass by, but do not stop. The crowd has grown to about 80.
11am: Former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan arrives.
11.01am: Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee says he is "feeling good" and that he will address the crowd at 11.30am. The march will begin at 12.30pm.
NONE11.03am: More than 100 people are present - the lawyers are wearing suits and many of the supporters are in yellow.
11:05am: A traffic police officer arrives to regulate traffic.
11.10am: Ambiga tells reporters: "I hope the government will look into the Bill. There is no need to rush it."

PKR vice-president N Surendran and PKR information chief Latheefa Koya are spotted - they are lawyers.
11.14am: Lim Chee Wee tells foreign correspondents that the very inception of Malaysia was based on street demonstrations.

"This Bill takes away the very act that granted us independence."
NONE11.16am: The Bar Council is distributing its 18-page draft of the Peaceful Assembly Act to the media.
11.20am: PAS central committee member Hanipa Maidin, a lawyer, and Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin are seen.
11.23am: The crowd has grown close to 200. Lawyer and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and Suaram head Kua Kia Soong are present, as are several anti-Lynas activists.
11:29am: Yellow banners are being held up, some of which read: 'Kill the Bill' and 'Bebas Himpun, Bebas Rakyat'.
11.31am: Lim Chee Wee introduces the first speaker to the crowd of about 300.
NONE11.35am: Bar Council constitutional committee head Syahrezan Johan (left) tells them: This walk today is not about politics, it about the unholy haste (in which) they (government) are pushing it through to limit our constitutional right.
Syahrezan says that that, if the Bill is passed, its provisions "will be abused".
He lists situations where people cannot gather, each of which draws boos from the crowd.

"Do you know that we cannot gather at the Bar Council HQ because it is 50m from a bridge?
"We have drafted a far superior alternative Bill and it only took three days. And we ask the government to consider this because it gives meaning to PM's Malaysia Day speech."
11.47am: Members of the Human Rights Commission are seen, observing the gathering.
NONEAt Parliament House, meanwhile, police have set up a roadblock at the entrance, in readiness for the demonstrators.
11.52am: At the Lake Gardens, the organisers direct the crowd to move further in, as they are spilling onto the road.
11.54am: Lawyer Edmund Bon is leading the crowd in chanting: "Bebas bebas, bebas himpun, bebas rakyat!"
11.56am: At Parliament House, the DAP's Sibu MP Wong Ho Leng shows up at the entrance to await the demonstrators.
"How can the Bill be passed? Insane!" he remarks to reporters, explaining that he is there to take some of the demonstrators inside.

He says each MP can take five people into the premises.
NONE11.59am: Bar Council Secretary Tony Woon Yeow Thong tells the crowd at the Lake Gardens that the government has gone back on its word. During consultations, it had told the Bar Council that it would live up to international standards of human rights.
12.07pm: Former Bar Council Yeo Yang Poh who led the team that drafted the alternative Peaceful Assembly Act addresses the crowd.

"We (drafted the alternative Bill) not because it needed tweaking but (because) its fundamentals are wrong. If this law had been passed by the British in the 1940s and 1950s, we would not have attained independence."
12.15pm: A group of youngsters clad in black are seen loitering on the fringes of the crowd. Asked for their purpose, they decline to comment beyond stating: "We are defenders of YBs."
12.19pm: The crowd begins moving out of the park - the march to Parliament House has started.
NONE12.26pm: A group who claims to be a coalition of Malay NGOs are already at the bridge leading to Parliament. They are chanting "We are against free sex!". One is overheard saying "Go back to India", which does not go down well with Indian Malaysians who hear it.
12.35pm: The Bar Council crowd follows orders to keep off the road and not obstruct traffic. Lim Chee Wee and nine other Bar Council leaders are allowed into the Parliament compound to hand over their protest note.
NONE12.45pm: Both the Bar Council's group and Malay NGOs have reached the bridge that connects to the entrance of Parliament.
They are unable to proceed to Parliament's gates and are on opposite sides of the road.
The Bar Council crowd is chanting: "Bebas, bebas! Bebas himpun!"

The opposing crowd retorts with: "Kami tentang seks bebas!"
12.50pm: NGOs' representative Zulkifli Sharif tells the press that they are a coalition of Malay groups who here to hold a counter-rally and accused the Bar Council of having a political agenda.
NONE"We saw the Bar Council group holding placards which was promoting free sex," he said.
He said the coalition represents several NGOs, including Majlis Ayahanda Malaysia and Persetuan Veteran Tentera Melayu.
12.50pm: The Bar Council delegation has reached the Parliament lobby and are addressing the press.
12.55pm: The Malay NGOs, now numbering at about 100, sets fire to a yellow t-shirt. Police quickly intervene.
1.10pm: The Malay NGOs crowd have decided to take a break from chanting slogans and seek refuge under several trees.
The Bar Council crowd is still chanting pro-democracy slogans. - Malaysiakini, 29/11/2011,
[PHOTO GALLERY]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bar Council's Walk For Freedom - gather 11.30am in front Lake Club, 29/11/2011

The walk will take place next Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011, from the entrance of the Royal Lake Club to Parliament House, to deliver the Bar’s Proposed Amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill to YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Members are advised to gather in their court attire at 11:30 am outside the Royal Lake Club entrance.



'Walk for Freedom' will proceed, says Bar Council
The Bar Council declared that its Walk for Freedom on Tuesday will continue despite the concession from the government that it would consider reviewing a number of the provisions in the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill.

“Wlawyers at brickfields police station 220509 lim chee weehilst it is mildly positive that the government - in reaction to public protest - is considering amending seven provisions, save for reduction of the notification period, we know not of other amendments...,” said the council chairperson Lim Chee Wee (right).

“However, it in fact reflects what is so wrong with the process involving the bill - it is being rushed with unholy haste into law without adequate public consultation.”

Lim said the best solution would be to refer the bill to a parliamentary select committee for public consultation and further deliberation.

The Bar Council has yesterday called for its 14,000-strong members to march to the Parliament on Tuesday where the bill is to be debated.

“In the UK, a distinction is drawn between static assemblies for which no notice is required and procession (assemblies in motion) for which notice of six clear days is to be give unless it is not reasonably practicable to give any advance notice. In Finland, only six hours is required,” said Lim.

“In Malaysia, assemblies in motion or processions except for funeral processions, are prohibited. This is outrageous.”

Notification period to be slashed

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz today confirmed reports that the cabinet had agreed to change parts of the controversial bill.

He said the 30-day notification period required for a public assembly will now be reduced to 10 days. But he did not mention whether the prohibition on street protests as stated in the proposed bill will be removed.

According to Lim, street protests allow “the demonstrators wider audience and visibility for others to see and hear what is the cause or grievance that these demonstrators are marching and speaking about”.

“The government cannot now rob us of this right of assemblies in motion, which is presently not prohibited in the Police Act - this and other provisions in the bill are objectionable,” said Lim.

He said, among others, they include:
  • Prohibition of organisation of assemblies by persons below the age of 21 years.
  • Prohibition of participation in peaceful assemblies of children below the age of 15 years.
  • Unduly onerous responsibilities and restrictions on organisers and assemblies.
  • Excessive fines for non-compliance of the bill.
In the latest protest today, some 400 people wearing yellow T-shirts gathered at the iconic Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, carrying yellow balloons that read "Say no to PAB 2011" and chanting "Free the people."

One of the organisers, Maria Chin Abdullah, said the bill is unconstitutional as it restricts the right to peaceful assembly. She said amending it would be insufficient.

"It's like cleaning poison out of food. You can't," the prominent women's rights activist told AFP. - Malaysiakini, 26/11/2011, 'Walk for Freedom' will proceed, says Bar Council


Image
Dear Members of the Malaysian Bar
 
Walk For Freedom 2011: Peaceful Assembly Bill Cannot And Must Not Become Law!
Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011 at 11:30 am, From Royal Lake Club to Parliament
 
Martin Luther King Jr once said that “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
 
The Malaysian Bar and indeed Malaysia is now facing such a moment of challenge and controversy — an objectionable Bill, being rushed into law with unseemly haste without adequate public consultation, which effectively robs the rakyat of our constitutional right to freedom of assembly.
 
This Peaceful Assembly Bill (“Bill”) is far more restrictive than the current law.  It is not a piece of legislation which we, as lawyers, can watch enter our statute books without standing up against it.  It is not a piece of legislation which we want future generations to inherit, without us walking, and spending every ounce of our energy to oppose.  If this piece of legislation makes it to the statute books, future generations would inherit a nation that is far from modern and progressive.

Members of the Bar are now called upon to march to object to this Bill.  The walk will take place next Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011, from the entrance of the Royal Lake Club to Parliament House, to deliver the Bar’s Proposed Amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill to YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.  Members are advised to gather in their court attire at 11:30 am outside the Royal Lake Club entrance.
 
The Prime Minister, in his eve of Malaysia Day 2011 speech, had promised that:
 
… long gone is the era in which the government knows everything and claims monopoly over wisdom …

The Government will also review section 27 of the Police Act 1967, taking into consideration Article 10 of the Federal Constitution regarding freedom of assembly and so as to be in line with international norms on the same matter … (emphasis added) 

… a Malaysia that practices [sic] a functional and inclusive democracy … in accordance with the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights.
 
This Bill is not in line with international norms because of, amongst others:
 
(1) Prohibition of street protests (defined widely as “open air assembly which begins with a meeting at a specified place and consists of walking in a mass march or rally for the purpose of objecting to or advancing a particular cause or causes”);
(2)  Prohibition of organisation of assemblies by persons below the age of twenty one years;
(3)  Prohibition of participation in peaceful assemblies of children below the age of fifteen years; 
(4)  Unduly onerous responsibilities and restrictions on organisers and assemblies; and
(5)  Excessive fines for non-compliance of the Bill.
 
Therefore this Bill is not “in accordance with the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights”, which the Prime Minister promised it would be.
 
The Bill is in its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat, and in all likelihood it will be passed after the third reading.  We must remain hopeful that we can make a difference, through our Walk for Freedom.  We must urge the Prime Minister to amend the Bill by way of public consultation to ensure that Malaysia will have a legislation in the public interest, which truly upholds, protects and promotes our constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

We feel let down by how far short this Bill falls in relation to what the Malaysian people were promised in the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Day 2011 message.  In short, the Prime Minister must walk his own talk.
 
Please click on the links below to view the:
(1)  Bar Council press release entitled “Peaceful Assembly Bill is more restrictive than present law and must be improved” issued on 22 Nov 2011;
(2)   Bar Council press release entitled “Broken promise: Prime Minister has not lived up to Malaysia Day 2011 pledge" issued on 24 Nov 2011; 
 
Please contact Gayathiri Paneerselvam, Officer, by telephone at 03-2050 2089 or by email at gayathiri.p@malaysianbar.org.my, should you have any queries. 

I call on all Members to support us in this crucial initiative.  See you on Tuesday, let’s walk!
 
Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

25 Nov 2011


PA Bill 2011 - further extinguish a right that already is being suppressed by the draconian Police Act...

The call must be:-

Withdraw Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011

Repeal Police Act 1967, especially section 27..

WE DEMAND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT OF PROTEST, PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND EXPRESSION

Art. 10 of the Federal Constitution deals with the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the freedom of association, this same article acknowledges the right -- and then withers away this right at the same time.

PART II
FUNDAMENTAL LIBERTIES
10.  Freedom of speech, assembly and association.
(1) Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4) -
(a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) all citizens have the right to form associations.
(2) Parliament may by law impose -
(a) on the rights conferred by paragraph (a) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality and restrictions designed to protect the privileges of Parliament or of any Legislative Assembly or to provide against contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to any offence;
(b) on the right conferred by paragraph (b) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or public order;
(c) on the right conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, public order or morality.
(3) Restrictions on the right to form associations conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1) may also be imposed by any law relating to labour or education.

(4) In imposing restrictions in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or public order under Clause (2) (a), Parliament may pass law prohibiting the questioning of any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III, Article 152, 153 or 181 otherwise than in relation to the implementation thereof as may be specified in such law.

Then we have the Police Act which states that a person wanting to exercise their right to assemble peacefully must get the police permission first... if not it is illegal -

Sec. 27(2) Police Act 1967  
Any person intending to convene or collect any assembly or meeting or to form a procession in any public place aforesaid, shall before convening, collecting or forming such assembly, meeting or procession make to the Officer-in-Charge of the Police District in which such assembly, meeting or procession is to be held an application for a licence in that behalf, and if such police officer is satisfied that the assembly, meeting or procession is not likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to excite a disturbance of the peace, he shall issue a licence in such form as may be prescribed specifying the name of the licensee and defining the conditions upon which such assembly, meeting or procession is permitted:

Provided that such police officer may at any time on any ground for which the issue of a licence under this subsection may be refused, cancel such licence.
Sec. 27(5) Police Act 1967
(5) Any assembly, meeting or procession-
(a) which takes place without a licence issued under subsection (2); or
(b) in which three or more persons taking part neglect or refuse to obey any order given under the provisions of subsection (1) or subsection (3),
shall be deemed to be an unlawful assembly, and all persons attending, found at or taking part in such assembly, meeting or procession and, in the case of an assembly, meeting or procession for which no licence has been issued, all persons taking part or concerned in convening, collecting or directing such assembly, meeting or procession, shall be guilty of an offence.
Now, note that even when the license is given - it can very easily be revoked at any time. Even, when applied for, the giving of the license can take time - sometimes coming only at the 11th hour... BUT I believe that this is a BAD law which must be repealed, there should be no requirement for any license/permit to the police for the exercise of a right. Too much power given to the police... If need be, maybe the police could merely be notified of the protest - and this is for the purpose of the police being able to assist in traffic flow and maybe even to ensure that whatever protest/peaceful assembly proceeds without being disrupted by others who may hold an opposing view... which will always be the case.

The law also seem not to allow one or 2 persons to apply for a license, it requires 3 - and this is a denial of rights because sometimes, the one calling for the protest may just be one...

Now, the police in Malaysia is not perceived as being independent - and for those that hold a differing view from the government of the day find that they cannot easily get any permits, and even when they do get, it comes with conditions, some of which could be really absurd. I have heard of an Opposition political party being given a permit to organize a political dinner function on condition that there be no political speeches...

In protest against these unjust and absurd laws, most persons in Malaysia will just proceed with their protest/peaceful assembly without bothering to get police permission ...

This protest has been on-going for years but unfortunately the Barisan Nasional government just does not listen - and is again trying to further hinder the already stifled right to peaceful assembly by this new Bill - Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011...

Some may say - why don't you just use the Town Halls, Community Halls, fields, stadiums - well, for those who do not know, you will almost never get permission to use these premises which are controlled by the government. Remember BERSIH - remember how they were denied Stadium Merdeka, and any other Stadiums in KL...

It is the suppression of rights and freedoms that will finally result in an eruption people's protest in Malaysia - Our rights and freedoms have been suppressed for way too long - over 50 years. Many have just accepted this....but today, more and more people are waking up and actively protesting this state of affairs irrespective of the threat of arrest, torture, tear gas, water cannons, detention, being charged, the risk of imprisonment and fine, the disqualification from holding the office of MP or ADUN, the possibility of job-loss, discrimination at the workplace, etc... 
It is no more just a few hard-core activist (normally around 50) - but today we see large numbers even going up to 100,000 coming out... and this is a new phenomena in Malaysia, and if the BN government do not change their 'draconian, repressive' ways, the people will bring about a change in government soon.



Right To Protest - requires no permission of police or need for notification...

Let us not change our position by saying that the present law is alright & all we need is for this new draconian Bill be withdrawn. Some have even complained that the new Bill notification to police period is TOO LONG - remember that our position is that we do not need to get permission from anyone, including the police, to exercise the right to Freedom of Assembly.

Remember also that our call has been for the repeal of the Police Act and other absurd provisions in law that make the gathering of 3 (or 5 persons) or more an  'illegal' assembly if police permits were not obtained.

Hence, our call is not just for the withdrawal of the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 - but for the repeal of all laws that restricts and impedes the true exercise of our human right to protest, street protest, peaceful assembly .... Be careful not to take the position that withdraw PA 2011 Bill and all is OK - for it is not


Candlelight vigil protest against Assembly Bill

27 Nov 2011 | 2,541 views
 
More than 100 people took part in the candlelight vigil to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill.
Camera: Amir Abdullah
Editing: Tan Jiun Wuu


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Candle Light Vigil against Peaceful Assembly Bill proceeds - 26/11/2011


The Freedom to Assemble Campaign continues at Dataran Merdeka tonight. — Picture by Jack Ooi (from Malaysian Insider)

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!"