Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011: The Gomen should stand firm on the Bill

What started as a good idea by the BN Gomen is turning into an ugly spectacle by the very people who demanded and insisted on their rights to protest anywhere they like be it on the streets or in front of anybody's house.

The Gomen tabled the Peaceful Assembly Bill for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday 21 November 2011. Among others the main points of the proposed law are:

30 days' advance notice for assemblies, except for those in designated areas as defined by the home minister;

after notification, the assemblies can proceed, unless there are objections from the police;

no street protests are allowed;

no protests in or anywhere in a 50-metre buffer zone around prohibited areas defined in a list, which includes hospitals, schools and places of worship;

Section 9(5) allows the police to fine organisers up to RM10,000 if no advance notice of a planned assembly is given to the police;

Section 20(1)(c) allows police to arrest anyone who brings, allows to come or recruits children for an assembly;

those under 21 years of age are not allowed to organise assemblies; and

children under 15 are not allowed to take part in assemblies, except in cultural or religious events such as funeral corteges or events approved by the home minister.

The Bill can be read in full here.

I am not a demo type of person, I have other things more interesting to do then protesting in or assembling in any place to protest about anything. I think its kind of old fashioned, use twitter, facebook or blogs etc to voice your support its more effective as the social media reach out to millions.

Anyway for what its worth I think overall the PA Bill 2011 is satisfactory and acceptable and it seems the drafters had made much effort to be fair to both the small minority who wants to assemble and demonstrate and those majority Malaysians who just want a nice life without being disturbed by protestors assembling in front of their house or workplace together with the security road blocks. I like that children are banned from demonstrating and their parents will be held liable. Maybe with certain adjustments namely:

The 30 days period is quite long, I don't think it will take the authorities that long to ask the opinions of residents or commercial vendors whether the assembly can be allowed or not at the "undesignated" areas. Seven days should be OK.

Designated Areas must be defined in the Bill, the Home Minister cannot be given the power to define designated area as he think fit. If Putrajaya is defined as non designated area then it must be clearly written into law. 

Designated areas must not be in city centers, places such as Stadium Merdeka or Dataran Merdeka cannot be designated areas, we don't want troublemakers like the illegal Bersih2 protestors spilling into the city streets causing untold problem to innocent bystanders Malaysians and visiting tourists alike.

As predicted the Opposition and their Pakatan friendly NGOs who loves to street protest are up in arms against the PA Bill.  Ambiga and Kit Siang say Myanmar are more freer than Malaysia in allowing people to assemble, such ridiculous statement can only come from twisted mind bent on having their way without due regards to the feelings of the silent majority. For their information the Myanmar security shoot to kill their own citizens using machine guns there and any comparison to the Army controlled Myanmar is just a complete nonsense. Malaysia does not need to take any lessons from Myanmar or any other countries for that matter, we make our Laws to suit our environment not somebody else's.

As usual where matters concerns the Pakatan folks is concerned the Bar Council follow along with gusto and now they want to Walk against the PA BillAnyway here is a good response by blogger Fatimah Zuhri to Kit Siang and his supporters who are against the PA Bill 2011:

I say Malaysia's progress towards developed nation status depends on the political stability and hard work of its people and a Government committed to the well being of this country. Unfettered freedom to assemble and protest anywhere in Malaysia will only cause chaos which will be difficult to manage in the future. 

The Gomen should not capitulate to the demands of the loud minority who wants their pound of flesh their freedom to assemble and protest anywhere, DO NOT open the Pandora's Box. The Gomen must always keep in mind the security and comfort of the Silent Majority, come the GE our voice will be very loud, louder than the roar of the tiger.

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