Assembly to protest assembly bill

Patrick Lee | November 26, 2011

More than 200 people protested against the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which they say goes against their right to have peaceful assemblies.

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 200 people gathered in opposition of the Peaceful Assembly Bill today.

With many dressed in yellow T-shirts, the crowd gathered at the park near the Suria KLCC shopping centre here at around 2:15pm.

Seen holding yellow-coloured items such as balloons and placards, they called for the Bill to be abolished.

“Bebas Rakyat! Say no to the Bill! Merdeka!” the crowd chanted several times during the 30-minute gathering.

The crowd was led by Bersih 2.0 steering committee members, who insisted that the gathering was not a protest but in fact “a social assembly”.

Nevertheless, the Bersih 2.0 representatives present vehemently protested against the Bill, which was tabled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Parliament two days ago.

‘This is ridiculous’

Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said: “The introduction of this Bill rolls back the human rights status of Malaysia.”

“It is unacceptable, unconstitutional, and goes against Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.”

If passed, the Peaceful Assembly Bill would require would-be protestors to notify the police of an intended gathering 30 days before it would be held.

Protesters would also not be allowed to conduct street rallies and are forbidden from meeting 50 metres from selected buildings such as hospitals and schools.

The police would also have the final say on whether a protest would be held or not.

Even though certain provisions affecting the Bill might come about as suggested by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, those gathered today called for the law to be dropped immediately.

Malaysian Makkal Sakhti Party president A Vathemurthy criticised the government for being undemocratic.

“It is wrong of the government to feel the need to control us. We want a democratic country, where the people’s rights are exercised. We definitely don’t like the Bill, it’s ridiculous!” he said.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Wong Chin Huat, “Aunty Bersih” Annie Ooi Siew Lan, DAP MPs Charles Santiago and Lim Lip Eng were also present.

The crowd dispersed peacefully at around 2:45pm, following repeated requests from KLCC security personnel.

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