( Over 80 people gathered to show support for Human Rights day today at City Hall Ipoh. The demo was organized by NGO's. Below was the main part of my speech.)
Speech by M Kula Segaran , DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at the Protest Peaceful Bill event held in conjunction with World Human Rights Day in Ipoh on Saturday, December 10, 2011.
Today all over the world "Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on 10 December.
The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
In Malaysia Human rights day is a very low key affair as the Government does not see the importance of this important day.
Malaysia has yet to rectify the UDHR and many other UN's conventions.
After having suffered unprecedented electoral debacle in the 2008 general election, BN government has talked about the need of making reforms and changes.
But since then, we have not seen any significant changes until after the successful Bersih 2.0 walk.
Faced with lower approval ratings ratings due to the way the Government handled the Bersih 2.0 event, the Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib realised that something must be done to project his image as a reformist.
And perhaps to also prevent a Bersih 3.0 walk
So came the Malaysia Day announcement of a slew of legislative changes which included the repeal of ISA.
We the Opposition welcomed such changes and were hoping that there would be introduction of more changes.
But just as we were wondering what further possible changes might be introduced, Najib had shocked us by presenting to Parliament the repressive and undemocratic Peaceful Assembly Bill which breached the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A Peaceful Assembly Bill should facilitate and protect the rights of people to assemble, yet the Bill presented was repressive and restrictive of civil freedom.
In fact, the Bill which was described by the Prime Minister as “revolutionary “ought to be called Illegal Assembly Bill instead.
Despite strong opposition from Pakatan Rakyat and NGOs, the government had chosen to bulldoze the Bill in Parliament.
If Myanmar had not then come up with a Bill which only required 5 days notice to the authorities, the BN government would certainly not bother at all to even reduce the originally proposed 30 days notice despite wide criticisms from the Opposition,
But the 30 days notice was not the only issue.
Other objectionable provisions in the Bill 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.
If Najib was truly committed to political reforms and prepared to walk the talk, he would not have presented such a Bill.
If he truly believed what he once declared – that the era where government knows best is over, he ought to have listened to the voices of opposition and withdraw the Bill.
Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah recently revealed Umno’s resistance to his reform plans during his tenure as the Prime Minister, so perhaps Najib now too faces internal pressures against more reforms after his Malaysia Day announcement.
Whatever was the reason for the government to present such a repressive Bill and to bulldoze it in Parliament has proven one important fact --that BN government is not and will not be committed to genuine reforms.
Hence, Malaysians who want to see real, meaningful and significant reforms must not put their hopes and trust in the BN government.
Pakatan Rakyat should be their choice.
Come the next general election, Malaysians should therefore support a new Putrajaya government helmed by Pakatan Rakyat