( Last night attended the Candle Light Vigil Event to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill at Dataran MBI in Ipoh
Among the people present to lend support were YB Dr.JayaKumar,YB Thomas Su, NGO's and concerned citizens).
BN will definitely pay a heavy political price in the next general election if it bulldozes the Peaceful Assembly Bill .
As an attempt to improve his popularity ratings which has dropped from its peak of 79% to 59 %, the Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib made the Malaysia Day announcement of a slew of legislative changes which included the repeal of ISA.
He later said the repeal of the ISA was possible at this time because of the success in developing the nation, the increasing maturity of the people and the greater awareness of human rights in society.
He said that it was not due to pressure from any quarter.
I don’t agree with his denial that the changes were not due to pressure from any quarter as it is so obvious that the combined pressures of the Opposition and the probability of BN suffering another debacle in the coming general election have been the causes.
But I certainly do agree with him that Malaysians have become more matured and more aware of their human rights.
In fact, Malaysians have become braver and more forceful in demanding political changes.
This is an era where the government knows best is over. This is an era where the people will not allow the introduction of repressive and regressive laws.
It is shocking indeed that the BN government could ever think of presenting to the Parliament the Peaceful Assembly Bill which is repressive and restrictive of civil freedom.
A Peaceful Assembly Bill should facilitate, promote and protect the rights of people to assemble but the Bill proposed by the government is doing the opposite.
Section 27 of the bill states that public gatherings cannot be held in the following areas: petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, railways, land public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, bridges, places of worship, kindergartens and schools as well as dams and reservoirs.
It states that no street protests are allowed, and bars any assembly in or within a 50 metre buffer zone around the listed prohibited areas.
This Bill should instead be called Illegal Assembly Bill.
Yet the Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib could even describe the Bill as “revolutionary” and “a giant leap” in the political transformation of Malaysia.
When a nation like Myanmar which has scant regard for human rights could even introduce a Bill which only requires 5 days notice to the authorities to protest peacefully, BN government has proposed a 30 days’ notice!
Under pressure, the Cabinet has decided to make amendments including reducing the 30 days notice to 10 days.
However, DAP will not support the Bill unless there is a complete revamp to ensure the Bill is to facilitate, promote and protect the people’s right to assemble.
Apart from the 30-day notice requirement, other objectionable provisions include the arbitrary powers given to the police to impose restrictive and unreasonable conditions for the holding of assemblies, the role of the Home Minister in cases of appeal, the unconstitutional ban on street protests, the list of prohibited areas or 50-metre vicinity disallowing the holding of assemblies, the ban on underaged children and the onerous and crippling fines for offences under the Bill, etc.
Our stand is that the Government must withdraw the Bill tomorrow or at least refer it to a Select Committee for a complete revamp by obtaining feedback and views from all parties and groups concerned.
Let me remind the Prime Minister that Malaysians have become more matured and more aware of human rights.
Malaysians will no longer accept oppressive, restrictive, suppressive and undemocratic law.
BN will definitely pay a heavy political price in the next general election if it bulldozes the Peaceful Assembly Bill in Parliament.